Much has happened in the last while to fill me with a great sense of pride and satisfaction and yet, somehow, a hole remains that can only be filled with the determination to do more.
Over the Victoria Day holiday weekend, we hosted our annual weekend-long fundraiser – we being my lovely wife and countless other people we’re fortunate enough to call friends. There was a barbeque, my daughter and the daughters of others shaved their heads; my son and his best friend did as well. We ran a yard sale and enjoyed live music around a 100-hour bonfire thanks to Willhorse and a host of other musicians – some whose blood remains in the sound hole of my guitar, because that’s what happens when you like to play hard.
This fundraiser was about a boy named James who died a boy. In 2001, he was taken from his family by a dreadful cancer that haunts many families around the world. James died far too young and though I never met him, I feel like I knew him, and know him still, because he left behind a beautiful legacy – a mantle carried under the banner of the James Fund for Neuroblastoma Research.
Neuroblastoma came into my life when two of my closest friends’ son was diagnosed with the disease. There had already been cancer deaths in my life and my wife was actually dealing with her own melanoma at that time – but this was a boy. He was and is my son’s best friend, but the fear I felt must’ve paled in comparison to what his parents grappled with as they watched him suffer through surgeries and chemo treatments that would buckle a man.
That’s when the James Fund came onto our radar. Millions of dollars have been funnelled into research laboratories at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital and the brightest minds in the field travel to Toronto to battle this curse, all in the name of that little boy, James.
We found solace and hope in their work, and that's why we do what we can to support such a worthy cause.
We raised nearly $4,000 over the course of the weekend, and through the speech I offered while watching children play and shave and laugh, I suggested that while the money we raise may be but a drop in a large ocean, we’re doing something special when we teach our children the beauty of looking out for others and the honour in giving of ourselves, what little that may be.
Earlier this week, I was also part of the 6th annual James Fund Golf Classic – a gem of an event among countless golf tournaments, all raising money for worthy causes. The money raised at this event is used to support families living with neuroblastoma. Research is critical, yes, but families need to escape and the golf classic funds an annual retreat where families find strength in each other. It also helps cover the mounting bills some families may face while their children are healing or dying.
The importance is never lost on me when I think about what is at stake, so I’m glad to be of service. In sorrow and suffering, one can find a strange beauty in the resilience of the human spirit and the willingness of friends and strangers to lift the sunken hearts of others.
It’s been a busy few weeks, to be sure, but it’s the good kind of busy.
Click here to learn more about the James Fund. Two related stories can be found here and here.
Here's a little Willhorse from the backyard fundraiser; a great group of guys with close ties to the place I call home: