James Bidgood loved children, probably because in many ways he was still like a kid. Sure, he ran a successful business and had a family and all those sorts of grown-up things, but the stress and cynicism that all too often pervades adult life never seemed to touch him.
He looked at every person he met as a potential new friend, just like a child upon a playground meeting a new playmate for the first time.
I think that’s part of the reason why he was such a strong supporter of The James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research, named for a young boy who died of the terrible childhood cancer back in 2001. The idea that this deadly disease targeted children didn’t sit well with James, especially when a close friend’s son, who also shared the name James, was diagnosed six years ago.
When a fundraiser for The James Fund was being held in our area, James, his wife, Brooke, and their three kids were always there. We hold a Yard Sale and party each Victoria Day weekend in our backyard, for example, with the proceeds going to support neuroblastoma families, and James would be one of the last people around the fire at night and one of the first ones out selling the next day. He could sell a 25 cent coffee mug for $10 – he was just that charming.
At the annual Nexicom James Fund Golf Classic we help organize each year in Peterborough, James would always be there, usually in an outfit mixing plaid and stripes. You couldn’t tell him the shirt and shorts didn’t match, just as you shouldn’t tell a six-year old they can’t wear a superhero cape to school. They matched perfectly in his mind, and his smile set the outfit off.
At the golf tournament, the Walk/Run held each fall in Peterborough, or even in our backyard, James would drop hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For James, the cause was greater than any worry he may have had over adult things like bills and bank accounts; he worked damn hard and chose to put some of his earnings towards helping find a cure for disease that tears families apart and threatens the innocence of childhood. Who could argue against that any more than stripes and plaid?
James was sorely missed this year over the Victoria Day weekend, and the golf tournament will be less colourful without him. He’s sorely missed every day, to be sure, but the legacy of his kindness lives on.