The Jaskela Family
Cohyn's Proud Family
You can feel it the moment you walk in – a bright, elfin energy dancing in the Jaskela household. Three young children, brimming with questions and stories and explanations on life.
“My name is Nevaeh,” the oldest one announces. And she spells it out loud: “N-E-V-A-E-H. Nevaeh is heaven spelled backwards.” Then she explains that she has a brother in heaven and that is why she is named Nevaeh.
Although Nevaeh (7) and her younger brothers Weston (5) and Joel (3) have never met their big brother, they know him. His memory is still very much alive in their home.
As with most bereaved parents, Jason and Trisha Jaskela have come to dread the inevitable question:
“How many children do you have?”
The answer they offer is often the simplest one: “Three.”
This is the point Nevaeh jumps in: “You have four kids. Our big brother Cohyn is in heaven. He’s up in heaven now, but he’s all better now.”
Cohyn was just a year old, when he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumour called atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour (AT/RT). That summer in 2007, Cohyn and his parents embarked on the most difficult journey of their lives.
The cancer had spread throughout his entire brain and spinal cord. Cohyn underwent emergency brain surgery, followed by five rounds of chemotherapy and three stem cell transplants. Five months later, Cohyn and his parents were finally able to come home just in time for Christmas.
“He went through all of it like it was a walk in the park,” says Mom Trisha. “For Cohyn, it was all about playing and, of course, flirting with the nurses and high-fiving with the doctors. As long as he could play, everything was great.”
Cohyn was a strong, happy-go-lucky little guy, who loved sports and camping. When he wasn’t at the hospital, his life was all about fast vehicles – motorbikes, boats, golf carts, tricycles.
Cohyn also loved to travel with Mom and Dad. Arizona, Mexico, Fairmont Hot Springs, Vancouver, Niagara Falls, Medicine Hat, Sylvan Lake – he travelled more in two years than some do in a lifetime.
But Cohyn’s biggest love was hockey. He even played it in the hallways of the hospital.
“We never treated him like he was sick,” says Trisha. “A couple of days before his last round of chemo, we took him to a Flames game and sat in the third row. Cohyn wouldn’t even talk to us or look at us for two full periods. His eyes were like saucers.”
Trisha and Jason fondly remember the outpouring of love and support they received during Cohyn’s cancer journey. And, for this, they are grateful.
“Thanks to our amazing support system, Cohyn wasn’t alone for a minute the whole time,” says Trisha. “Friends, family, people from church and work bent over backwards to help. They dropped off meals. Cohyn’s grandparents immediately dropped everything and came to Calgary to help. They even took turns doing overnight shifts at the hospital, so we could get some sleep.”
Kids Cancer Care was one of the organizations that helped Trisha and Jason through this challenging time. Every Wednesday evening, the Jaskelas found comfort in our weekly Pizza Nights at the hospital. During Pizza Nights, they were able to meet other parents facing childhood cancer, exchange stories and share information over warm pizza.
“Until you experience it yourself, you can’t understand what a big difference generosity and support can make in a family’s life,” says Dad Jason.
Inspired by their son’s memory, the Jaskelas are helping families facing this disease.
Jason and his daughter Nevaeh are regulars at the Dad and Daughter Gala and, in 2016, the family made a significant gift of shares through Raging River Explorations Inc., where Jason works as chief operating officer.
“The current economic situation seemed like the perfect time to make the biggest impact,” says Jason. “Our experience with Cohyn was so challenging and Kids Cancer Care was one of the organizations that was there for us. They are investing wisely in areas that are impacting the lives of children and families today, so it made sense to us to give here.”
Christine McIver of Kids Cancer Care couldn’t agree more: “A gift of this magnitude could not have come at a better time. It is a gift from the heart – from one family to many other families. Their generosity will be felt by many.”
But the gift of shares in 2016 wasn’t the first gift the Jaskelas made to pediatric cancer. Their first gift actually came nine years ago. Moments after Cohyn passed away in 2008, Jason and Trisha donated his tumour and spinal fluid to research.
Slowly, with some scientific arm-twisting, the tumour cells became a cell line and managed to survive in a Petri dish, allowing scientists a glimpse into its inner workings. The cell line ultimately gave researchers an invaluable tool to test for new treatments.
“The Jaskelas are an exceptional family,” says Dr. Aru Narendran, the Kids Cancer Care-funded researcher, who developed the immortal AT/RT cell line in his University of Calgary laboratory. “They are the true heroes and I hope they know that their kindness continues to work quietly in many laboratories across the world, so maybe one day this cancer will no longer hurt children and families.”
Although Cohyn’s life was brief, his legacy is far-reaching and enduring. It lives in the love and generosity of his family. It survives in the tissue and blood samples his parents donated to science a decade ago. And now, his memory lives on in a quaint little park named Cohyn’s Corner, overlooking Kindle Pond at Camp Kindle. And, perhaps most importantly, Cohyn’s legacy lives in the hope his family continues to offer countless families facing childhood cancer today.
Read more about Cohyn’s cancer journey here, as part of our #familyseries for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Tour for Kids
The ride to somewhere meaningful
Taylor was diagnosed with leukemia the year she was supposed to start grade one. She spent two and a half grueling years on treatment. Her story is one of many shared on special dedication boards at registration for Tour for Kids Alberta, a three-day cycling adventure through the Canadian Rockies, where participants fundraise to ride, with all proceeds to Kids Cancer Care.
These special boards each share a different story of a childhood cancer warrior, fondly known by Tour for Kids as ambassadors.
Grant was 15 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Three weeks later he was in remission. However, the cancer would change to acute myeloid leukemia and, later that year, he was diagnosed with skin leukemia. He passed away six months after his first diagnosis.
Liam. Stephen. Briony. Alexander. Dominic.
These are the childhood cancer warriors that are top of mind for the cyclists on the epic cycling tour through the Canadian Rockies. Each day of riding, a special dedication to one of these children affected by cancer.
It’s always been about the kids for Jeff Rushton, Founder, Chair and Very Passionate Volunteer at the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation. Fourteen years ago, Jeff and some friends started Coast to Coast, the Ontario-based organization behind Tour for Kids. “When we started this foundation, we really wanted one thing: we wanted to make a meaningful difference in the lives of kids and their families going through childhood cancer,” Jeff says.
And that’s exactly what they have done in the 11 years since Jeff and his team first brought Tour for Kids to Alberta. In total, Tour for Kids has raised $2.5 million dollars for Kids Cancer Care. Through various fundraising events and programs, including the Sears National Ride, Inside Ride, and of course, Tour for Kids, they have raised over $35 million dollars for 50 childhood cancer charities and hospitals across Canada.
Their model is low cost. Hard costs are covered by corporate sponsors. That means Coast to Coast has always given 100 per cent of donations raised to the charities they support.
But what makes the event stand out is the people.
Jeff himself is there at the crack of dawn to greet the riders on the first day and then he joins them on the ride, for every single kilometre. At the end of the weekend, Jeff is there to hand out medals and pat each rider on the back.
“The ride takes you to the edge physically and spiritually,” Jeff says, “as you push beyond your own limits and listen to the story of the child you’re riding for.”
Kids Cancer Care event coordinator Kelsey Morrison adds, “It’s a real team effort. The riders, the organizers, the volunteers. No one is afraid of getting dirty or lending a hand to make the weekend the best experience possible for everyone.”
Kelly Raymond, Kids Cancer Care volunteer assistant agrees, “There is so much comradery. There is a real human, powerful side to the event, almost everyone has a connection to childhood cancer or has been touched by these kids.”
After the ride starts, volunteers start to pack up the dedication boards at registration.
“I need to get a picture of Grant’s dedication board before they load up,” says Mel, the volunteer co-lead, working with Kelly to oversee the 84 volunteers who work the event. Mel, her daughter Ali and husband Jim have volunteered on the ride for six years. She is also Grant’s mom.
She’s not alone. Liam’s mom has been a rider two years in a row. Stephen’s dad rides too. Briony’s mom normally rides, but volunteered this year due to an injury. Briony’s sister is the volunteer massage therapist who organizes all the massage therapists and RMTs for the weekend. Alexander’s mom and dad are part of the volunteer crew. And Dominic’s aunt rides every year.
On the second night of the ride, participants stay at Kids Cancer Care’s Camp Kindle where all the kids go each summer thanks to Tour for Kids. First, the counsellors speak of their own experiences as a childhood cancer survivor and sibling. Then, the Inkpen family, a family whose son Foster is currently undergoing treatment, speaks at dinner, reminding everyone in the room where their fundraising dollars go.
“Camp Kindle is our family’s island where we dock,” says Candace Inkpen, standing before a crowd of cyclists. “Knowing that both kids were in amazing hands at Camp Kindle helped me let go. Just a little. And that is because of you all.”
And in that crowd is Taylor. Now 28 and a registered nurse, she rides every year with her dad
, Dean Wheatley.
“Taylor Wheatley is amazing,” says Kelly. “She and her dad ride all weekend and the rest of the Wheatley family volunteers. And then on Monday, after riding hundreds of kilometres all weekend, she’s at SunRise camp, volunteering for a week with our youngest campers.”
That’s what the ride is for so many. Jeff sums it up best, “We give a lot, but we get so much out of it. It’s been an incredible journey…and we’re just beginning.”
Thank you Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, Jeff, Taylor, Mel, and all the volunteers, sponsors and cyclists who make this event possible. By doing so, you make an invaluable impact in the lives of children affected by cancer and their families.
Check out this story and more Tour for Kids photos on our blog.
Strathmore Poker Run
Like many great western legends, it began with a wager at a local watering hole. A leather-clad biker named Dirtdog bet a good ol’ cowboy that he could raise more money for charity by bartending than he could. The cowboy took the bet and the challenge was on. That first weekend the cowboy and his friends tended bar and the following weekend, the biker and his crew took over.
As with all legendary tales, someone won by a landslide. Dirtdog and his crew walked out of that bar and off into the sunset the victors.
The challenge was all in good fun. The money raised was to be donated to charity. Dirtdog, also known at Matthew Janzen, caught the fundraising bug. The challenge inspired him to begin a local motorcycle rally, with proceeds going to charity. And with that, the Strathmore Poker Run was born.
In its first couple years, the event was small, but mighty with funds raised going to a local children’s charity. Riders set off from Strathmore and hit five stops in southern Alberta. At each stop, riders pull a card out of a shuffled deck of cards. By the last stop, and many hours later, the motorcyclists will have a complete poker hand. The best and worst hand receive various prizes and plaques.
It was a labour of love by Matt and twelve other committee members. Matt led with his charismatic, friendly, brazen, hardworking attitude.
What started as a challenge between two very different groups of locals – bikers versus cowboys, –became an annual event that brought the community together. People of all backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences came together to ride or participate in the weekend’s events.
And a stereotype was beginning to soften. Bikers, often judged as a bad group of tough guys, were out on the road doing good, raising money for a good cause.
A couple years into the annual event, Matt was diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough blow to the friendly, outgoing biker, who had dedicated the last few years to the big fundraiser. While undergoing treatment, Matt became inspired by the children who fought the disease. Going through his own battle as an adult, Matt was heartbroken to learn that children, so young and vulnerable, were faced with the rigours of cancer treatments. He spoke with his fellow committee members.
In its third year, the Strathmore Poker Run chose the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta to be the beneficiary of their event, in honour of the children undergoing cancer treatment who had inspired Matt. Sadly, Matt lost his battle with cancer in 2002.
The legacy left by Matt grew from there. Today, the Strathmore Poker Run is a three-day celebration. On Friday night, there is a Shave You Lid for a Kid® head shave. In 2011, Matt’s mom shaved her head in honour of her son’s memory. Saturday features the poker run, the longest poker run, in kilometres, in southern Alberta. Stops include Rockyford, Carbon, Wayne and Standard, all of which open their community and their hearts to the riders. In the evening, the riders return to Strathmore for their last stop and a dinner and dance. A local band plays, while bikers and their supporters dance the night away. On the Sunday, the focus turns to families, with a motorcycle rally and other activities for everyone to enjoy.
The event is run solely by volunteers and local sponsors. Without these generous members of the community, t-shirts wouldn’t be printed, silent auction items wouldn’t be sourced and won and dinner wouldn’t be served (to over 160 people!).
And they know, Matt would be proud of what they have achieved in his memory. Over the past 17 years, they have raised $219,496.69 for Kids Cancer Care. The funds raised support families through the entire continuum of childhood cancer — fighting the disease on all fronts by igniting joy and laughter at camp; funding innovative science in the lab and providing the best care and treatments at the hospital; and creating brighter futures for survivors through education support and post-secondary scholarships.
And it’s still a labour of love for the 13 committee members. They have been known to be out mowing grass and setting up tents on Friday, rolling up their sleeves to serve dinner on Saturday and cleaning up when the event is over on Sunday. They do it because they know it’s what Matt would have done. Some of them are even permanently inked themselves with Strathmore Poker Run tattoos.
Sandy Scobie, one of the organizers of the events says, “It’s great to look back at where we’ve been and the impact we have made. It’s lots of work but it’s worth it.
When she’s asked what the goal is for 2017, she simply says, “Any amount raised for us is a success.”
We think Dirtdog would agree.
The 18th Annual Strathmore Poker Run takes place June 23 to 25th, 2017. For more information click here.
Don, Joanne and the Coach
Voice for Kids with Cancer
Founded in 1994 from Christine McIver’s basement, the small but mighty organization that cared for families affected by childhood cancer was finally ready for it's big move. The year was 1998 and Kids Cancer Care was relocating to a real office.
Like a young adult, moving from Mom’s basement to your first real home, you suddenly find yourself with a new amount of space. And you need furniture. And lots of it.
Christine knew exactly what to do. She reached out to friends and local radio hosts Don, Joanne and the Coach. Their morning show was the most heard on Calgary’s airwaves. They put out the call. And their supporters and clients furnished the entire Kids Cancer Care office.
“That has always been the essence of Don, Joanne and Coach’s partnership and friendship with Kids Cancer Care,” Christine, Founder and CEO, says. “No matter the request, whether it was tickets that needed selling or those desks; they have never turned us down.”
One of Kids Cancer Care’s first signature events was the Golf a Kid to Camp tournament. Don, Joanne and the Coach came on board a couple years into the tournament and asked how they could help. Their station and the radio hosts helped take the tournament to the successful event is it today. The Don, Joanne and the Coach Golf a Kid to Camp tournament has raised over $3 million in its 23 years and has sent thousands of children with cancer to camp. This is an unspeakable joy for children with cancer and a precious gift for which they will long be grateful.
After being involved with the tournament for a few years, Joanne took a week of her vacation and volunteered as a one-to-one for a camper who needed additional support.
“She came back from camp and said, ‘When I retire, I want to work at Camp Kindle,” Christine remembers fondly.
In 2003, the trio shaved their heads to show solidarity and support for children affected by cancer through Kids Cancer Care’s largest fundraising initiative, Shave Your Lid for a Kid®. By shaving their heads, they provided much needed moral support for the kids who lose their hair during cancer treatments in a public forum.
Nine years ago, Don Stevens took on an even bigger role at Kids Cancer Care. As a dedicated supporter and a huge part of the tournament sponsorship committee, Don joined the Kids Cancer Care Board of Directors. Since then, his expertise and experience in media has put the spotlight on childhood cancer and given the organization so much awareness in Southern Alberta.
Over the years, the radio hosts and Kids Cancer Care have shared in many milestones. Don, Joanne and the Coach even emceed Christine’s 50th birthday celebrations. We were there when the Coach departed Calgary in 2009 when his wife’s work took the couple to California. The tournament would go on that year as “The Don and Joanne Golf a Kid to Camp,” but the Coach was definitely missed.
Coming up this year, we will celebrate another milestone with Don, Joanne and the Coach. The team is retiring from the Calgary airwaves and Don’s tenure on our board will come to an end. And 2017 will mark The Final Don, Joanne and the Coach a Kid to Camp tournament. We anticipate a sell-out and one of the best years yet in fundraising.
As she looks back on the relationship between these outstanding Calgarians and Kids Cancer Care, Christine notes, “They have become such advocates of children affected by cancer and their families, and on top of that, such good personal friends. They may be leaving the airwaves, but they will never leave our hearts.”
She adds – “Plus, we still have a job for Joanne out at camp.”
Thank you to Don Stevens, Joanne Johnson and Jamie Herbison (The Coach) for your dedication to our cause and our community. Enjoy retirement and the greens!
View this story on our blog for more pictures.
Proud Sponsor of Volunteers
"I want them to know they are changing lives at Camp Kindle. Kids can develop and grow with all that encouragement, support and commitment. There are small wins and big wins that will change the course of a child’s life forever. I believe this for Levi!”— Levi’s mom Cheryl
Jack Perraton was known as the ultimate volunteer, and among his many volunteer roles was his nine-year term as chair of the Kids Cancer Care Board of Directors. During Jack’s term, the foundation experienced tremendous growth, and the crowning achievement of those years was the purchase and planned renovation of Camp Kindle.
When Jack passed away in February 2012, after his second battle with cancer, his good friend JR Shaw of Shaw Communications decided to do something special in his memory — something that would honour Jack and the life he lived. Jack had passed away before the renovation of Camp Kindle could be completed, and JR felt that completing it in his name would be a lasting tribute to Jack’s spirit and generosity.
“Jack was the ultimate giver, the ultimate volunteer,” JR said during a 2013 reception to honour his friend and celebrate the opening of the Jack Perraton Volunteer Lodge at Camp Kindle. “He set an example for all of us and his footprints, I’m sure, are everywhere here. He would be so proud to have his name on this volunteer lodge.”
Along with Jack’s footprints will be those of countless volunteers to come — volunteers who will also leave a lasting impression in the lives of children with cancer. With a charitable contribution to our 2017 volunteer program, Shaw Communications is helping keep the volunteer legacy alive by providing the necessary resources to attract and maintain the best volunteers at Kids Cancer Care.
“Volunteers are the heart and soul of Kids Cancer Care,” says Christine McIver, who started the foundation over 20 years ago as a volunteer. “We are so grateful for this gift from Shaw Communications. It is the perfect way to keep Jack’s volunteer spirit and legacy alive, while helping us to recruit, train and retain volunteers for tomorrow.”
Eleven-year-old Levi is one of many kids to experience the lasting influence of volunteers in his life. Diagnosed with high-risk leukemia at 18 months, Levi endured repeated rounds of chemotherapy that lasted until he was five years old. Although Levi is cancer-free today, survival came at a cost. He suffers from high levels of anxiety and neurocognitive issues that are affecting his ability to learn and function at optimal levels. Levi’s psychologist believes he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the invasive medical procedures he received as an infant.
For years, staying overnight at Camp Kindle was out of the question for Levi. The thought of being away from home for a whole week was just too stressful. Each time he tried, his anxiety got the best of him and he came home from camp mid-week. With energetic coaxing from his parents, Levi decided to give Camp Kindle another try.
After a couple of rough patches on Monday and Tuesday, and repeated telephone conversations with his mother, Levi reluctantly agreed to stay on until Wednesday. Meanwhile, his mother Cheryl and Levi’s counsellors met by telephone each night to explore ways to help him manage his anxiety. When Cheryl spoke with Levi on Wednesday evening, she couldn’t believe the transformation in her son.
“I could hear joy and confidence in his voice. He was proud of himself!” she says.
Levi’s victory at Camp Kindle is now spilling over into other parts of his life. “Getting that psychological demon off his back was huge,” Cheryl says. “It’s a total game-changer. He gained so much that week at Camp Kindle that he’s riding off now to face other fears.”
Finding the perfect complement of volunteers at Camp Kindle is essential to a child’s camp experience, and the nature of the role requires rigorous screening and intense training.
“The time and resources dedicated to recruiting and training these volunteers is significant, so retention is also a huge focus for us,” says Tracey Stahn, who oversees the volunteer program at Kids Cancer Care. “Shaw’s support will go a long way to helping us achieve these complementary goals.”
Thanks to companies like Shaw Communications, kids with cancer will continue to feel the lasting impact of volunteers at camp and at every stage in the cancer journey. Volunteers are active on all fronts of the foundation, from volunteer cooks who prepare home-cooked meals for newly diagnosed families, to one-to-one camper aides who provide extra support at camp, and specialized tutors who support children struggling at school. Shaw’s gift to the volunteer program will leave a legacy of giving in the hearts of children with cancer.
A proudly Canadian company, Shaw is committed to improving the lives of Canadian kids and youth through the Shaw Kids Investment Program (SKIP). To learn more about SKIP, visit Shaw.ca/SKIP.
To see this story and a complete photo gallery of our hard-working volunteers in action, visit our blog.
Event Sponsor & Research Champion
“You get involved with something that sounds good, but you stay involved with something that’s great.”— Trevor Winkler, Regional Managing Partner
When you ask Trevor Winkler about MNP’s long-standing partnership with Kids Cancer Care through Parents’ Quest for the Cure, his response is unequivocal: “It’s a fantastic event and it’s such an important cause. Learning about the research we’re supporting and seeing the kids — how it impacts the kids and their families — is deeply rewarding for our company.”
Recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Employers every year since 2009, MNP is a leading national chartered accountancy and business advisory firm in Canada. With about 4,000 employees working in offices across the country – from Vancouver to a newly opened office in Halifax – it’s clear that MNP is a leader in their industry and achieving growth. With values including integrity and respect guiding the way, MNP has been serving clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors for more than 60 years. Clearly, MNP’s client-focused approach to business is standing the test of time.
“We are a client service focused firm,” says Trevor Winkler, the Regional Managing Partner of MNP Calgary. “By investing time and resources into fully understanding the client’s business and industry, we’re able to provide deeper insights and tailored strategies for them. It’s about building a long-term outlook and relationships that grows over time. If we consistently do good work, we grow too.”
MNP takes a similar interest in and approach to community investment. As presenting sponsor of Parents’ Quest for the Cure for the past eight years, MNP is definitely bringing a long-term outlook to its relationship with Kids Cancer Care.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important to support charities and give back to the community,” says MNP Partner Jason Kingshott regarding Alberta’s current economic climate. “Supporting children with cancer and the research to help find cures for cancer is such an important cause; Kids Cancer Care is doing excellent work. We’re proud of our partnership and hope to be involved for a long time to come.”
The relationship began in 2009 when Ted Poppitt, former Senior Vice President of Client Service at MNP, brought the company on as presenting sponsor of the gala. Since that time, the relationship has grown and MNP has become increasingly involved with the foundation, participating in the Ride for a Lifetime and the Don, Joanne and the Coach Golf a Kid to Camp tournament.
“MNP’s involvement has definitely grown over the years,” says Christine McIver, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kids Cancer Care, “but it’s Parents’ Quest for the Cure that has permanently stolen a place in their hearts. We’re so grateful for their continued support.”
For Jason, who served on the gala sponsorship committee, the partnership is a win-win for both organizations: “It’s an extraordinary gala and our clients love it. We’re fortunate to have such a fantastic relationship with Kids Cancer Care.”
MNP’s partnership with Kids Cancer Care is paying dividends for families of children with cancer. As presenting sponsor of the gala, MNP has invested more than $200,000 in pediatric cancer research, from basic research in the lab to psychosocial research investigating the less visible side of the disease.
MNP’s support for Parents’ Quest has played a vital role in helping to build the Experimental and Applied Therapeutics (ExpAT) research program at the University of Calgary and Alberta Children’s Hospital, where researchers are identifying and developing new, targeted therapies for children with high-risk cancers.
With MNP’s support, Kids Cancer Care also established the Kids Cancer Care Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care at the University of Calgary Faculty of Nursing, where researchers are exploring the social, emotional and financial impact of childhood cancer on children, families and the health care system.
Reflecting on MNP’s initial and ongoing decision to sponsor the gala, Trevor aptly sums it up: “You get involved in something that sounds good, but you stay involved with something that’s great. It’s a great event and we’re looking forward to being there for many years to come.”
Champions on and off the ice
Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Haley Wickenheiser, Jarome Iginla. Idolized by fans, their stats are etched in the minds of those who love the game and their names are stitched across the backs of well-loved jerseys by those who cheer their names.
At Kids Cancer Care, we know of a special kind of hero from the good ol’ hockey game – one that makes an impact on AND off the ice. These hockey heroes aren’t just players, they are coaches, hockey moms and dads, friends, schoolmates, principals, administrative staff. And they are changing the course of childhood cancer.
Our community hockey partners are exceptional. They raise funds for Camp Kindle, for research, for outreach programs, for hospital programs, scholarships and PlayStations (we’ll get to that).
But, we figure the best way to tell you about these hockey legends is to run down the stats for you.
Northwest Calgary Athletic Association
Team: NCAA Midget AAA Flames
City: Calgary, AB
Motivation: Friend Joel Zukowski, who lost his battle in 2015
- Teammates shoveled sidewalks, collected bottles, reached out to friends and family to raise money for Kids Cancer Care.
- Many of the players shaved their heads on CTV Morning Live, extending a brave show of support for the children who lose their hair to chemotherapy.
- Raised over $44,000—enough to send 29 children affected by cancer to Camp Kindle.
The Hockey Heroes fundraiser in honour of team member Tyler Oakenfold’s best friend Joel Zukowski. Joel passed away in October 2015 at the age of 16 after a courageous seven-year battle with brain cancer. He was a quiet, gentle soul who touched countless lives through his kindness and wisdom. Joel and Tyler first met in pre-school at the age of four. The boys shared a love of hockey, playing shinny on the homemade rink in Tyler’s backyard.
The 20 players on Tyler’s hockey team, the Northwest Calgary Athletic Association Midget AAA Flames, vowed to raise $30,000 to send kids affected by cancer to Kids Cancer Care’s Camp Kindle, where Joel had spent much time. They raised $14,000 more than their goal and they are back at it again in 2017. This year, they are hoping to expand the amount of teams and players involved. It all started with the love of the game and a dear friend.
Simons Valley Hockey Association
Team: Simon Valley Storm
City: Calgary, AB
Motivation: Player Alec Remenda who lost his battle in 2016
- Alec was a member of the team and the fundraiser was started to show support for his family. Today, the hockey fundraiser continues in his memory.
- Passionate about hockey and video games, Alec inspired fundraising for new PlayStations for unit one at the hospital, as a distraction for kids during treatment. Thanks to Alec, kids can continue to play their favourite sports virtually, while they are in the hospital.
- In the past two years, this team has raised close to $100,000 for Kids Cancer Care
Only days after celebrating his 13th birthday, Alec Remenda was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer in which rapidly growing tumours are found in the bone or in soft tissue. Alec was known for his love of hockey and he was passionate about playing for the Simon Valley Hockey Association. While his treatment made it so he couldn’t play, he remained an important part of his team. That’s why they started the Stick It to Cancer charity hockey tournament.
Sadly, after years of extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Alec passed away in July of 2016. His team has vowed to continue fundraising in his honour. This year will be the third annual event.
Mac's Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament
Team: Various teams, volunteers and teen leaders
City: Calgary, AB
Motivation: Kids Cancer Care’s Teen Leadership Program
- Our name appears on volunteer jerseys, the ice and in the program. A great way to raise awareness about Kids Cancer Care, the tournament draws as many as 100,000 spectators over seven days!
- Kids Cancer Care volunteers and teen leaders sell 50/50 tickets with the proceeds coming back to our programs.
The Mac's Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament is a prestigious ice hockey tournament held annually from December 26 to January 1. The tournament features 25 male and 15 female teams from across North America and Europe. It draws large crowds and raises a ton of money for our Teen Leadership Program, where patients, survivors, siblings and bereaved siblings enjoy opportunities to develop as leaders through self-reflection, peer support, skill building, volunteerism and a service trip.
The Calgary Flames Foundation and The Calgary Hitmen Foundation
Teams: The Calgary Flames and The Calgary Hitmen
City: Calgary, AB
Motivation: Kids across the province affected by cancer
- They have given over $1.2 million dollars to Kids Cancer Care, including a sizeable donation to help us realise our dream of owning and operating our own camp.
- Number 11, Mikael Backlund, is our Flames champion. He picked us as his charity of choice, and invites our families to a game each year and supports us year round.
Through annual fundraising events such as the Flames poker and golf tournaments and the Flames 50-50 raffles we thank our supporters. Through annual fundraising events such as the Flames poker and golf tournaments and the Flames 50-50 raffles we thank our supporters.The Calgary Hitmen and Calgary Flames are ideal partners. Not only have they been a part of creating memorable experiences for kids affected by cancer by supporting our programs and camps financially, but they also provide tickets to games, along with meet and greets with the players. These games are a light in an otherwise dark cancer journey.
In 2009, after 20 years of having to beg, borrow and rent space to send children with cancer to camp, Kids Cancer Care purchased its own camp. We called it Camp Kindle because, for hundreds of Alberta children and families facing cancer, it would be a place where childhoods, interrupted by cancer, could be rekindled. We needed funds to purchase the camp and carry out the necessary upgrades and renovations to make it suitable for children with cancer. The Flames Foundation for Life was there for us when we needed their support the most. With a donation of $1,000,000 they helped us fulfill our dream. In July 2012, after undergoing more than $12 million in renovations, Camp Kindle re-opened to Alberta children affected by cancer and their families.
From midgets to the pros, Kids Cancer Care is honoured to have such great support from our hockey community in Alberta. And now, supporting us is even easier. We recently launched online Community Fudnraising pages to make your fundraising campaigns even easier. To learn more, click here.
Thank you to all our hockey partners for their dedication to changing the course of childhood cancer.
Oh! The good old hockey game,
Is the best game you can name;
And the best game you can name,
Is the good old Hockey game!
Tundra Process Solutions Ltd.
When you think of tundra, you typically think: “Vast rocky terrain in the frozen hinterlands—cold winds and permafrost.” But there’s another kind of Tundra in North America that’s a whole lot warmer, a lot more fun and definitely a lot more charitable.
Tundra Process Solutions Ltd. joined Kids Cancer Care in 2010 as a community fundraising partner and has given with gusto ever since. Specializing in industrial equipment solutions for companies across western Canada, Tundra manages to build fun and friendship into everything they do. Their work-hard, play-hard attitude has seen the company grow 50 per cent every year for the past decade. They are the seventh fastest growing company in Canada today.
Fortunately for Kids Cancer Care, successful fundraising seems to come as naturally to Tundra as hard work and serious play.
“We’ve always been a community-minded company,” says Iggy Domagalski, partner and chief operating officer at Tundra. “And a few years ago, we were looking for a charity to support. It had to be a local children’s charity that could really engage our staff and give them a chance to make a meaningful contribution. Kids Cancer Care was a perfect choice.”
Since then, Tundra has become a major fundraising force for children with cancer. They annually host ugly sweater days, curling bonspiels, indoor rock climbing events and Stampede ho-downs. With matching gifts from the company, Tundra’s 200-strong team has raised $100,000 for Kids Cancer Care.
Tundra has also donated significant amounts of time and equipment to a large heating project at Camp Kindle. Valued at $25,000, the new heating and ventilation systems will ensure our campers stay warm at night and provide a safe and warm indoor space where they can play all year long.
Their philanthropic spirit has not gone unnoticed. Giving at least one per cent of their profits to charity, Tundra is an official Imagine Caring Company.
“Tundra is an ideal community partner,” says Jill Miller, manager of community and signature fundraising events at Kids Cancer Care. “They have literally given across all areas of the foundation. And they’re amazing to work with.”
Tundra even manages to help Kids Cancer Care, while building up Tundra employees. They rented Camp Kindle for their 2015 staff teambuilding retreat, where any profit generated from the rental goes toward our cancer camp programs.
But that’s not all.
Iggy took part in the 2015 High Hopes Challenge, raising over $20,700 doubling his $10,000 fundraising goal, before he and the other challengers headed for Camp Kindle to master the challenge course with their kid coaches.
Iggy is also an active member of the Kids Cancer Care Board of Directors, where he is the volunteer chair of our fundraising committee. As a member of the board, Iggy and the other board members are responsible for the financial oversight and strategic direction of the foundation.
“When we came to Kids Cancer Care in 2010, we were looking for a partnership, something where we could be fully integrated with the charity’s mission,” says Iggy. “We originally chose Kids Cancer Care because they met certain criteria, but we stay because of who they are as an organization. We share the same culture of fun and our staff has really identified with their work and cause.”
Indeed, even children of Tundra staff are getting involved. In 2014, eight-year-old Kaydence asked her friends to donate money to Kids Cancer Care in lieu of birthday gifts. The daughter of Casi Simcoe, an accountant at Tundra, little Kaydence raised $110 to help kids with cancer.
And, of course, Tundra matched every dollar she raised.
This post also appears on our blog, with more photos.
Sponsor, Community Partner, Supporter
“I ask myself sometimes in difficult moments: ‘What would Edyn do? How would Edyn handle this?’ I believe this is what Edyn would do. She would reach out and help others. To remember Edyn is to keep her spirit alive and this head shave in her name for other kids with cancer is the perfect way to do it.”
Those were the words of thirteen-year-old Cole Pederson, before the kickoff event for the Bishop Pinkham Junior High Shave Your Lid for a Kid® event in memory of one of his best friends, Edyn. In the coming weeks, our staff would find themselves both blown away by the fundraising support for Kids Cancer Care and overwhelmed by the sheer number of students whose heads we had to shave. We were given a window of two hours to shave or cut the hair of 100 students, teachers and parents. And we had to keep a gymnasium full of junior high students engaged in the event. The largest school event previous to this had less than half the participants. How were we going to make this happen?
Shave Your Lid for a Kid® show children facing cancer that they are not alone, all while raising vital funds for initiatives like research to change the course of the disease. “Shavees” as we call them come together in a community of support.
Our presenting sponsor of Shave Your Lid for a Kid®, Trico Homes, is very familiar with building communities. Founder Wayne Chiu has always known that his company is more than building the physical structure of a house.
Trico believes in building community. “When you build with us you quickly become part of the Trico family. We keep in touch with our homeowners and try to provide great incentives and opportunities for them to move up within Trico – from condos to semi-estate homes.” says Wanda Palmer, Vice President of Marketing for Trico Homes. “We also want to create housing options to meet the needs of all Calgarians. Trico recently broke ground on a new project that will provide new affordable and accessible living options in an inner city community. Social entrepreneurship is one of Wayne’s passions and this thinking has contributed to shaping the culture of Trico Homes.”
It was this passion that brought Wayne into his first meeting with Kids Cancer Care founder and CEO Christine McIver in 1999. After finding out that the children of two of his business contacts had been diagnosed with cancer, he knew he had to do something.
“Wayne wanted no fanfare. He just wanted to help,” says Christine. “One of his employees suggested doing a motorcycle ride to raise money. In the inaugural year of Ride for a Lifetime, Wayne sponsored every rider for $1000.” A Kids Cancer Care signature event for 10 years and now a third party fundraising initiative, the Ride for a Lifetime has since raised over $2.6 million for pediatric cancer research programs.
For almost two decades, Trico has been heavily involved behind the scenes in Kids Cancer Care’s growth. Trico Homes has been the presenting sponsor of the Shave Your Lid for a Kid® since its inception in 1999. After sponsoring Ride for a Lifetime for a number of years, when Kids Cancer Care began supporting childhood cancer research, Wayne committed to giving $100,000 a year to research. Trico then became the presenting sponsor of the Don, Joanne and the Coach Golf a Kid to Camp tournament. When Kids Cancer Care began exploring the possibility of running Camp Kindle as a social enterprise, the Trico Foundation gave Camp Kindle its first grant.
Christine says, “They gave us the courage to add the pillar of research to our organization, they gave us the courage to embark on a new signature event, Ride for a Lifetime, and the courage to start a social enterprise with Camp Kindle rentals. The impact of Trico Homes on Kids Cancer Care far surpasses their financial commitments. You don’t get a community without family and Trico is definitely a part of our family.”
You can always count on family to be there for you at every major milestone and event.
“Our staff really appreciate going out to volunteer at head shaves and the golf tournament,” says Wanda Palmer. “I send an email and almost immediately, the volunteer spots are filled.”
Wanda herself is one of these volunteers. Wanda volunteered to represent Trico Homes at a High Hopes Challenge, raising over $10,500 for Kids Cancer Care, and being paired with a bereaved sibling to experience a week of camp in one day.
Everyone at Trico Homes is given the chance to volunteer and participate. They mandate sending different staff, from all departments and seniority levels, to the Don, Joanne and the Coach Golf a Kid to Camp tournament each year. Everyone is given the chance to experience the Kids Cancer Care community.
So in April 2015, in the Bishop Pinkham gymnasium, when faced with the largest event in the 17-years of Shave Your Lid for a Kid®, there were some familiar faces in the crowd. As they always were, no matter the size of the event, Trico employees were there to help. We put them to work handing out goodies to all the shavees and we even encouraged them to partake in the flash mob!
Trico Homes knows how important volunteering and seeing the return on their social investment has on their employees. Kids Cancer Care is so grateful to Wayne, Wanda and the entire team at Trico Homes for their continued dedication to families affected by childhood cancer!
This post also appears on our blog, with more photos.
Sponsor, Fundraiser, Champion
When Tony Dilawri was invited to be one of 12 corporate challengers in Kids Cancer Care’s High Hopes Challenge, his first question was, “What’s the most you’ve ever raised?” Then he promised to double it.
You could say Tony Dilawri has a knack for doubling, redoubling and generally increasing results. When Dilawri Group of Companies first signed on as the presenting sponsor of the Dad and Daughter Gala in 2011, the event was raising $114,000. Five years later, the gala is now raising $450,000.
But the Dad and Daughter Gala isn’t only a financial success. It’s one of Calgary’s hottest events, selling out in less than a minute every year.
“The growth of the Dad and Daughter Gala has everything to do with Tony,” says Christine McIver, founder and chief executive officer of Kids Cancer Care. “Tony has incredible focus and drive and when he commits to something, he commits completely—heart and soul.”
Tony is the same in business.
Following in the footsteps of his father, who owned a small GM dealership in Ottawa, Tony and his brothers Ajay and Kap opened their first dealership in 1985. Since that time, Dilawri Group of Companies has grown into Canada's largest automotive group with 58 franchised dealerships, representing 31 automotive brands, throughout central and western Canada.
“We learned from our father,” says Tony. “He was a mechanic from India who came to Canada in the ‘60s. He was the entrepreneur; my brothers and I put in the technology, the systems and processes to build a national company.”
Watching their father, the Dilawri brothers learned, first and foremost, that business comes down to people. Do right by your customers and employees and your business will naturally flourish.
The Dilawri brothers bring a similar attitude to their philanthropic endeavours. Established in 2002, The Dilawri Foundation has given tens of millions of dollars to charitable causes across Canada.
Kids Cancer Care is one of many charities they support. In addition to the Dad and Daughter Gala, Dilawri Group of Companies is a long-time sponsor of the Don, Joanne and the Coach Golf a Kid to Camp tournament. And this year, Tony raised funds as a challenger in the 2016 High Hopes Challenge.
Tony’s commitment to Kids Cancer Care comes down to the kids.
“There was a young girl from Kelowna named Danielle who spoke at that first gala and she stole my heart like no one has ever done before,” recalls Tony. “The pain she felt as a child, when all she wanted was to be a normal kid. She didn’t hold a grudge; she just kept getting back up every time it knocked her down. She blew me away.”
Afterwards, Tony approached Danielle and said, “I want to make your life easier. What can I do to help?” Danielle turned down support for herself but asked Tony to invest in other children affected by cancer. Tony has been investing in Kids Cancer Care ever since.
At 26, Danielle Rettie still battles the same disability she talked about in her speech at the gala. Diagnosed with cancer in her spine as an infant, Danielle underwent two spinal surgeries, leaving her left leg much weaker and smaller than her right. As a result, she has an uneven gait, which causes her to fall a lot.
Danielle endured countless surgeries, painful medical procedures and years of physiotherapy. She began each school year in either a cast or a brace. Even today, Danielle suffers from excruciating back pain if she doesn’t keep up with her physio-exercises. But, as Tony noted, Danielle does not feel sorry for herself.
Danielle credits her strength and attitude to cancer camp. Her camp experiences helped her to build her confidence and foster an emotional tenacity that sustains her to this day.
“I’ll always be the girl who had cancer, but at camp, I learned we’re all the same,” says Danielle. “I was six when I first discovered Kids Cancer Care and I was falling all over the place because of the brace on my foot, but really I was falling in love—with camp! Camp made me a normal kid. I didn’t just feel like a normal kid. I was a normal kid. I rock climbed, hiked, camped. I did, and still do, anything my little heart desires.”
Helping young people like Danielle, Dilawri Group of Companies does much more than help the children directly affected by cancer. By building kids up, they set kids up to pay it forward, creating a ripple effect well into the future.
An avid snowboarder now living in Nelson, BC, Danielle cycles everywhere and even cycled in Tour for Kids Alberta, a three-day cycling event that raises money for Kids Cancer Care. Working toward a career in occupational therapy, Danielle looks forward to bringing her can-do attitude to patients with disabilities, so they can also live rich, full lives.
“My greatest strength is working with people and bringing out the best in them,” says Danielle. “My personal experience with astrocytoma, the endless surgeries, physio and long-term effects has lasted much longer than the cancer itself, but these experiences have made me stronger and more compassionate toward others.”
Thank you Tony and Dilawri Group of Companies for investing in kids like Danielle. By investing in kids today, you’re investing in a better world for tomorrow.
Community Fundraising Partner
“We’re committed to making a meaningful contribution over a long time not just a splash in the pan,”—Brad Beebe, Canadian President, Enerflex
If you work in the oil and gas industry, chances are you’ve crossed paths with the dynamic, customer-focused team at Enerflex Ltd.
What was once a small Calgary shop with a handful of employees 35 years ago is now an international oil and gas service company operating in 17 countries worldwide with 3,200 employees.
There’s no doubt. Enerflex is in for the long haul.
“Our people are our success,” says Canadian president Brad Beebe. “It’s their expertise and commitment that gives us our strong technical reputation and our name for being a strong customer-focused company.”
As Kids Cancer Care’s longest standing community fundraising partner, Enerflex has also demonstrated remarkable staying power for children with cancer.
Carefully selecting a charity partner and staying with that charity is part of the culture of giving at Enerflex. “We tend to focus on a few charity partners, like Kids Cancer Care, and stick with them for the long haul,” says Brad. “We’re committed to making a meaningful contribution over a long time not just a splash in the pan. We’re here to build a legacy of giving.”
And build a legacy they have.
In 1997, when the two organizations first met, Kids Cancer Care was just developing its first SunRise camp program for children ages three to six. The Enerflex donation that year made SunRise possible.
“Enerflex helped us grow,” says Christine McIver, founder and chief executive officer of Kids Cancer Care. “Knowing we could count on their support each year gave us the courage to add new programs and expand.”
Since then, the annual Enerflex Charity Golf Tournament has raised over $1.2 million for Kids Cancer Care’s camp programs and made summer camp possible for thousands of kids.
Once again, Brad credits the success to Enerflex employees: “We never have a shortage of employees and volunteers when it comes to Kids Cancer Care,” he says.
The Enerflex commitment to Kids Cancer Care goes beyond the annual charity golf tournament. Enerflex employees regularly scoop ice cream for kids at Camp Kindle and, last June, 50 employees participated in a Kindle Care Day at camp—lugging boulders, hauling dirt and gravel, painting and landscaping.
As with all things Enerflex, their commitment to Kids Cancer Care comes down to people. “Our motivation is the kids, through good times and bad times,” says Brad. “Kids don’t get to take a year off from cancer when the economy slows down, so we’re staying the course, especially now. We’re committed to seeing Kids Cancer Care succeed and we succeed one kid at a time.”
Bishop Pinkham Junior High School
Shave Your Lid for a Kid® Host
“This has been such an amazing experience for us. That Edyn would be the ‘guest of honour’ for an event of this magnitude has moved us and encouraged us and helped us to keep going. My rose today is all of you; my thorn, as always, is that Edyn isn’t here to participate; and my bud is that your actions today will continue to inspire others as you have inspired us.”
The powerful words from a grieving mom echoed through the school gym. On a normal school day, this gym would be full of the sounds of junior high students; chatting, yelling, with the sound of a basketball bouncing, maybe sneakers pounding on the wood floor. This was no normal school day. This was Edyn's day. Despite being full of kids, the gym was calm, even peaceful, as Kristyn Drever spoke.
On Friday, April 17, 2015 Bishop Pinkham Junior High School students and teachers came together in an act of courage and generosity, when 117 of them participated in a shave fundraising event to honour Edyn Drever, a 12-year-old student who passed away from brain cancer in September 2014. Far surpassing their $20,000 fundraising goal, the students and teachers of Bishop Pinkham have raised more than $90,000, placing them among the top three Shave Your Lid for a Kid® events.
“This is the largest shave event ever for Kids Cancer Care,” said Megan Gough, who oversaw the Shave Your Lid for a Kid® campaign. “We’ve never had this many individuals participate in one shave event in the entire 17-year-history of the program. It’s a real testament to Edyn and the impression she made on others, and it speaks volumes about the school spirit at Bishop Pinkham.”
After weeks of sudden and unexplained headaches and nausea, Edyn was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive brain cancer that is rarely found in children. Although she endured a nine-hour brain surgery, followed by months of radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer persisted and Edyn passed away at the age of 12.
Inspired by the kind, fun-loving girl, who was wise beyond her years, the students in Edyn’s homeroom class decided to do something meaningful in her name—help children with cancer by shaving their heads and raising funds and awareness for Kids Cancer Care.
Cole Pedersen, one of Edyn’s closest friends, was one of the many students shaving in Edyn’s name. “I ask myself sometimes in difficult moments: ‘What would Edyn do? How would Edyn handle this?’ I believe this is what Edyn would do. She would reach out and help others. To remember Edyn is to keep her spirit alive and this initiative in her name for other kids with cancer is the perfect way to do it.”