Trey Elkins

2016 Scholarship Recipient

Trey Elkins has always wanted to do more.

Growing up in Mississippi without a father, Trey wished he had a dad to take him fishing. He wanted a dad to teach him new things and take him to new places, but that wasn’t possible because cancer had taken his father away when Trey was five.

After losing their home to Hurricane Katrina and moving to Alberta, Trey found himself battling the same disease that took his father’s life. Stuck at the hospital, Trey longed to be outside, hanging with his friends. He wanted to be anywhere, but the hospital. Again, that wasn’t possible because Trey needed 29 rounds of chemotherapy and eight surgeries to survive.

After treatment, as he grew stronger and healthier, Trey still longed to do more. That’s when he made a promise that he would do more, for himself and others, with the life he was given.

Thanks to you, this time, it’s possible for Trey to do more.

With the help of a Kids Cancer Care Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship, Trey studied Advanced Care Paramedics at SAIT. He now works at Advanced Paramedic Ltd., a company that provides air ambulance EMT and paramedic services to remote areas for Alberta Health Services.

“I’m pretty fortunate to land this job,” says Trey. “A big part of me getting it was the scholarship and volunteer work I’ve done with Kids Cancer Care.”

Trey also credits his mother Kim for his success. He recalls one night at the hospital when he was having a particularly tough time – the inevitable “Why me?” moment. “My mom looked at me and said, ‘Trey, you’ve been through a lot. This whole family has, but there is always someone worse off. Don’t you forget that.’” He didn’t forget.

Trey’s mother wasn’t exaggerating for effect. They had faced unthinkable adversity. After losing her husband Bill to cancer, Kim and her boys lost their beautiful waterfront property in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This was the home she had struggled for years to keep through refinancing, foreclosure notices and living pay cheque to pay cheque. Flooded in seven feet of Mississippi mud and water.

After losing everything in the flood, Kim moved her family to Alberta, seeking a new start and an end to hardship. Not long after settling in Airdrie, Trey was diagnosed with stage four osteosarcoma. He was 14.

By the time Trey was ready for college, the family was experiencing a serious financial setback. As an American citizen, Trey was also facing hefty international student fees and tuitions to attend a Canadian post-secondary school.

The Kids Cancer Care scholarship that you made possible could not have come at a better time.

“My oldest brother had given me all the money he could,” says Trey. “My mom was paying most of my bills. Even my girlfriend’s parents loaned me some money. I was broke. If it were not for the scholarship I received and the generous amount that it was, I would have had to drop out of school.”

Thanks to you, in his last year of school, Trey had a Kids Cancer Care scholarship in the bank, a mother’s wisdom in his heart and a powerful desire to do more with his life.

“My story isn’t exceptional,” says Trey. “Anyone who endured what I have would emerge from their struggle with a new outlook on life. I kept my resilience by recognizing that people around me were suffering and I began to focus on relieving the suffering of those around me.”

That’s why Trey was in Fort McMurray, providing medical support to victims of the wildfires in 2016 and why he volunteers as a trainer for a high school football team. And that’s why Trey volunteers as a medic and spokesperson for charities such as Kids Cancer Care, the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Alberta Cancer Foundation. He’s determined to do more.