By Ron Giofu
The fourth annual Kids Curing Cancer event looks to be well on its way to a record fundraising total.
The main fundraiser was held Saturday evening at the Fort Family Fun Centre (formerly known as the Verdi Club) with over 200 people in attendance. It featured a pasta dinner, live entertainment from the Baillargeon family and raffles.
The event was spearheaded by Lauren Baillargeon, a Grade 7 student at Malden Central Public School, as well as her younger siblings Ty and Kierstyn. Mother Jodi Baillargeon noted that in addition to the over 200 tickets that were sold, they had over 70 door prizes.
“It makes me feel good. It helps the community,” Lauren said of the event.
It also helps keep her grandfather’s memory alive. Kids Curing Cancer started in 2014 when Lauren’s grandfather – and Jodi’s father – Dan Gerard was sick with cancer. It started with the idea of Lauren wanting to raise $50 and they sold bracelets to help generate the money but the first fundraiser ended up raising $3,860.
The 2015 was the first at the Verdi Club and that raised $6,230. Gerard died shortly after the second event and that left doubts at the time of whether they should hold a third event but it went ahead in 2016 and raised $6,850.
A fundraising total from last Sunday’s event is not yet available.
The family is a musical one and they provide the live entertainment at the events.
“A lot of the songs they are going to be performing tonight are songs (Gerard) taught the kids,” said Jodi, prior to Saturday evening’s performance.
There were a mix of new and familiar faces at Saturday’s fundraiser with it growing by word-of-mouth as the years go by.
“Every year, it seems to be getting bigger and bigger,” said Jodi.
Lauren credits her mom for helping out but Jodi pointed out it was Lauren’s idea to get more kids involved this year as many of Lauren’s friends and relatives helped sell raffle tickets and get the hall set up. Lauren also recorded a five track CD in which proceeds also go to Kids Curing Cancer.
Saturday’s event was the second of three being held this year as a kickoff event was held at the Libro Centre Feb. 5 in conjunction with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association, the General Amherst girls hockey team and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals. That day raised $4,341 with the third event being this Sunday as the Windsor Spitfires have become involved as well. The Spitfires host the Sudbury Wolves at the WFCU Centre this Sunday at 2:05 p.m. with $5 of every $16 ticket purchased through www.spitsgear.com/kidscuringcancer being donated to the cause.
The event raised over $16,000 for the patient assistance fund at the Windsor-Essex Cancer Centre Foundation with a plaque being installed at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Metropolitan Campus recognizing that feat. This year, the Baillargeons wanted to share their proceeds with another organization and decided on the Ronald McDonald House after a recent tour.
Pamela Sahli, community relations associate with Ronald McDonald House, was impressed with what she saw last Saturday evening.
“This is just so amazing. These kids are so inspirational. They are blowing me away,” said Sahli. “We love all of our community support but it’s even more special when it comes from kids.”
Sahli said Ronald McDonald House has been open in Windsor for ten months and is the first one in Canada to be contained within a hospital as it is part of the Windsor Regional Hospital Metropolitan Campus. Support from the Kids Curing Cancer fundraiser helps them aid more families, said Sahli.
The Ronald McDonald House in Windsor currently had five long-term rooms and two short-term rooms.