Congratulations to the scholarship recipients of 2023!

This June we have the absolute pleasure of awarding 12 young adults scholarships to support them in furthering their educational journeys, and we have the pleasure of sharing these students with you. The Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship was named in memory of a charming little boy who, with his smile and engaging personality, would hold the attention of any room. We know Derek would be “thrilled beyond belief to know that this scholarship was in his name,” said his mother Christine Mclver.

Four of these recipients also received Tiana’s Top up which is in honor of Tina Shoebridge who was one of Kids Cancer Care’s first campers. After battling cancer 5 times Tiana Relapsed once again in 2020 at the age of 40. Her life partner Colin Binding established Tiana’s Top up in her memory intended for individuals who demonstrate three virtues Tiana herself lived; supporting her community through volunteer service, bringing hope to others by being positive even in the face of adversity, and encouraging others to strive to be and do better. The recipients of the top up are Amanda Johnson, Baylen Lapierre, Breah McGladdery and Jaxon Leavitt.

Over the last 15 years 208 deserving young people have received over $400,000 in scholarships, and we are so proud to continue that tradition.

AMAN RAVJI

Perseverance is the word that comes to mind when describing Aman Ravji. Diagnosed with stage 4 osteosarcoma in late 2019, Aman has persevered through treatment ever since, never giving up no matter how difficult the situation is.

His strength and perseverance have served him in his leadership endeavours. He is a valuable member of the Kids Cancer Care Teen Leadership Program and his school’s leadership class, volunteering in the community at his local mosque and for children at a daycare. Aman has also shared his wisdom and leadership in the creation and presentation of a TED-Ed Talk on the topic of radical acceptance. Wow!

Aman plans to attend Mount Royal University in the fall where his leadership skills and entrepreneurial drive will thrive in their business program. We would like to wish Aman a huge congratulations, his passion and desire to create something positive in the world are evident and we know from first-hand experience what a positive impact he has made already!

AMANDA JOHNSON

Diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia at the young age of 2, Amanda Johnson was given only a 30 per cent chance of survival. She relapsed at age 4. Defying the odds twice, Amanda now deals with the long-term effects of cancer every day and she overcomes each day with strength and resilience. She is truly an inspiration.

A standout comment from one of her teachers compares Amanda to St. Theresa of Calcutta and St. Therese of Lisieux, consistently putting others ahead of herself while being a ray of light for those around her — even in times of great pain. We see Amandas light, in her volunteer and fundraising efforts in the Teen Leadership Program, in her role as a Kids Cancer Care spokes kid, and a kid coach in our High Hopes Challenge. And we have experienced her light in her poetry.

We know Amanda will continue to shine her light at the University of Victoria. This young woman plans to study sociology while learning from and continuing to help others. It is our pleasure to congratulate Amanda, we have loved being a part of her journey!

ARLO JACOBSEN

At the age of 14, Arlo Jacobsen was diagnosed with Wilm’s tumour. It turned his life upside down. His kidney was surgically removed, and he now faces the physical and psychological impact of cancer. As if cancer wasn’t enough, Arlo completed chemotherapy in March 2020. Just as the world was going into lockdown because of the pandemic and Arlo was looking forward to some normalcy, he faced isolation again. Kids Cancer Care’s Teen Leadership program helped him process, grow and connect at a time when everyone was craving connection.

Arlo is a caregiver by nature. He cares for his 30-some plants, 20-year-old cat, and has earned his certification as a volunteer medical first responder volunteer with St. Johns Ambulance.

This fall, he’ll be stepping into the Bachelor of Nursing program at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus. Since the age of 6, Arlo has known he wants to be a nurse. While the motivation and reason may have changed throughout his life, his highest goal has always been to help. With great pleasure we congratulate Arlo! His future patients will be lucky to be cared for by him.

BAYLEN LAPIERRE

Positivity and optimism are two words that personify Baylen LaPierre. He radiates these qualities and so too did his scholarship application. At the age of 13 Baylen was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, Pineoblastoma. Having a cancer located in the brain near the pituitary gland and ocular nerve has had an impact on learning, but Baylen perseveres and advocates for himself and his education daily.

Baylen plans to become a data analyst as he loves math and numbers. He will be attending University of British Columbia Okanagan campus for a business analytics degree. We can’t wait to see which school Baylen ends up at. His positivity and love of life are contagious, his smile infectious, and his involvement in Kids Cancer Care has made an amazing impact. We would like to thank Baylen for his volunteer service as a Kids Cancer Care spokes kid and as a teen leader!

And most important, we would like to wish a huge congratulations to Baylen! We have loved having him in our community.

MICHAEL ARTHUR

Michael Arthur is a two-time cancer survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. A hardcore hockey enthusiast, Michael loved playing before his cancer diagnoses. These days, he enjoys watching his brother compete and catches as many NHL games as he can.

As an active volunteer, Michael shares his love of hockey by supporting the coaching efforts of local hockey teams. This fall, Michael will be eching out time in his busy schedule to pursue a nursing degree at the University of Calgary. We hope Michael’s future brings you scores of opportunities. We know he’ll become an all-star in the nursing field.

JADE KAZAKOFF

In April 2020, after a few months of not feeling well, and going to various hospitals and clinics to determine what was wrong, Jade Kazakoff was diagnosed with T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Central Nervous System-3B disease. With the support of her family and the impact of her Beads of Courage, Jade was able to process, accept and share her cancer journey with others.

Throughout high school, and particularly in grade 11, Jade discovered a love and appreciation for construction during a cabinet-making class. This piqued her interest even more, and now Jade has decided to pursue a diploma in architectural technologies at SAIT this fall. We can’t wait to see the future Jade builds! Congratulations, and we wish her the best of luck.

LAUREN CHARBONNEAU

Lauren Charbonneau was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumour when she was 2 years old. Also known by her self-declared camp name Clover, her involvement with Kids Cancer Care began at age 6. She has jumped into just about every program ever since. Lauren writes in her scholarship essay that Kids Cancer Care holds a special place in her heart. She says the support and joy we have given her is unmatched, and yet it is she who continually brings US joy.

Fun fact for you, Lauren is also a national-level baton twirler, which has brought her to places like New Brunswick for competition. With a keen interest in Asian culture, Lauren is pursuing a diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

A big congratulations to Lauren as she journeys into this next adventure in life. We have no doubt that she will continue to bring joy to those around her. We happily congratulate Lauren and look forward to witnessing the impact she has on her communities.

BREAH MCGLADDERY

Breah McGladdery was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in October of 2022, completing treatment in January of 2023. Breah is described as someone with grit, and nowhere is this is more evident than in her fight against cancer and in her push for safer communities.

Breah serves as a student representative on the Town of Carstairs Community Policing Advisory Committee. The intersection between this committee and her schooling has afforded Breah the opportunity to put into motion proactive strategies and programs such as ‘positive tickets’ at her high school. She plans to continue her education in the policing field by taking the criminology and justice studies program at Lethbridge College.

This educational path has the potential to open a range of career opportunities for Breah where she will continue to impact her community in positive ways. We look forward to seeing the impact Breah will have in the community by creating safe spaces for all to thrive. Congratulations!

JAXON LEAVITT

Residing in Drumheller, Jaxon Leavitt was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2013, which meant a lot of driving to and from Calgary for treatments. It also meant time away from his family, missing his siblings and his home.

Jaxon has taken on many roles in his life, but the ones he loves most are being assistant captain and assistant coach in hockey. These leadership and volunteer roles have helped Jaxon realize that he wants to pursue a career to support himself and his family, but also one in which he can make an impact in the lives of others.

Jaxon has been accepted into the University of British Columbia’s combined degree program in Bachelor of Applied Science and Master of Management. Wow! Congratulations to Jaxon, as he takes this big step in his life to pursue his passion for helping others.

KAI VAN DER LOOS

In 2014 Kai Van der Loos was diagnosed with a Soft Tissue Sarcoma that was so rare, he had to fly to Texas for surgery to remove it. Diagnosed in grade 3, Kai did not return to school full-time until grade 7. This impacted Kai’s learning and knowledge.

He took it upon himself to advocate for his need for a tutor and that is how Kai became involved in Kids Cancer Care’s tutoring program. Matched with a Kids Cancer Care tutor a few years ago now, Kai works tirelessly on his schoolwork and time management. He and his tutor initially began their tutoring journey by reading Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief to improve his reading comprehension, but now it is a tradition for them to read a book together each summer.

As with Percy Jackson, he shows immense strength and bravery. As he steps into this next chapter of life, pursuing the university entrance program at Mount Royal University, we are excited to see what the next book, the next chapter and next sentence will bring. Congratulations, Kai!

PAUL SARARU

In 2019, during Paul Sararu’s first few days of high school, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his knee. What should have been a routine X-ray to check on a knee injury from a month prior led to a crisis in his world. After treatment and a total knee replacement, Paul had to pivot his love for all sports and through that found a new passion for one sport in particular, golf.

Paul is dedicated to entrepreneurship, helping to run Joy to Job, a non-profit organization that allows high school students to explore different career paths by connecting them to qualified professionals through webinars. Paul also founded an AI company that helps integrate language models, such as ChatGPT, into educational institutions in a safe and ethical way to encourage learning and curiosity.

With all of this in mind, it is no surprise that Paul is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce, with a specialization in finance at the University of Calgary. We look forward to seeing Paul score a hole-in-one on the golf course and in life! Congratulations!

We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Leslie Robertson, who has been volunteering on our scholarship committee since 2008. We have been made all the better for her attendance in our community and we are so grateful for her brilliance, insight, and positivity. We truly shine brighter because of her brilliance.

Dr. Robertson will be stepping down from her volunteer responsibilities after this year, and in the spirit of beginning new chapters, we so excited to see what life brings her in these next phases.

A heartfelt congratulations to all our outstanding scholarship recipients, you have earned it! We can’t wait to see what you do in the next chapters of your lives and from everyone here at Kids Cancer Care GOOD LUCK!


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