fundraiser

General Amherst staff, students hit the volleyball court in memory of former teacher

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Staff and students at General Amherst High School had a chance to gain calories in one gymnasium and work them off in the next, all in the name of fundraising.

The local public high school held a fundraiser which included a staff-student volleyball game in the main gymnasium and a bake sale in the smaller gymnasium. Proceeds will benefit the local chapter of the ALS Society.

This year’s event was originated by students Celina Varacalli and Katie McEvoy, and those two students brought the idea to the school’s fitness and recreational leadership class. Varacalli and McEvoy said the fitness and recreational leadership class did a lot of the work in organizing the event.

General Amherst teacher Jeff Miller hits a ball over the net during a recent staff-student volleyball game. The event raised over $2,000.

“We had a lot of hands on deck this year,” said Varacalli.

Varacalli noted that last year’s event raised about $1,300 and featured a walkathon and T-shirt sales. This year’s event topped $2,000.

While T-shirts were also available this year, they wanted to change things up and chose the bake sale and staff-student volleyball game that came as part of suggestions from the rest of the student body.

“We picked the ideas we liked,” said McEvoy.

McEvoy said the event was in memory of long-time coach and teacher Dave Scott, who had ALS and died last year.

“It’s great to give back to the community,” McEvoy added.

General Amherst High School held a bake sale as part of their fundraiser for the ALS Society, in
memory of former teacher/coach Dave Scott. From left: Lexi Newhook, Katie McEvoy, Grace Duggan, Celina Varacalli and Alyssa Jones.

Varacalli added they hope to keep the spirit alive to future Bulldogs. Both McEvoy and Varacalli gave credit to the fitness and recreational leadership class for their work in presenting the event.

Teacher Greg Scott said his students get an opportunity to work on such projects and when Varacalli and McEvoy came forward, they treated them as their clients and worked on their behalf. He added it took about three weeks to come together and groups worked on their own to complete the projects.

Fundraiser held for transverse myelitis patient on his 15th birthday

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

A local youth celebrated his 15th birthday in a big way this past Sunday.

A fundraising dinner, complete with live entertainment and door prizes, was held at the AMA Sportsmen’s Club both in celebration of his birthday – he turned 15 on the 15th –  and as a way to cover some of the costs associated with his treatment.

Phoenix MacDonald-Gagnon is fighting against transverse myelitis, a type of spinal cord inflammation that prevents signals from passing through the spinal cord into the rest of the body.

For now, MacDonald-Gagnon is restricted to a wheelchair, but he’s been making steady progress since his diagnosis last year, according to his aunt, Kari Dufour.  She said that for now, the family is dealing with each challenge as it comes.  One of those challenges is accessibility.

Phoenix and his mother, Betty-Joe MacDonald, spend their weekdays at Holland Bloorview Kids’ Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto.  On the weekends, they come back South to stay with Misti and Wayne Moyer.  The house in which they’re staying is not designed with wheelchair-accessibility in mind, according to MacDonald, so the next big project will be renovating the residence.

Phoenix MacDonald-Gagnon celebrated his 15th birthday last Sunday with a fundraiser in his honour at the AMA Sportsmen Association.

MacDonald said she hasn’t been given an official figure yet, but she estimates the price tag for construction will sit somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000.

“It’s not easy,” she said.  “We have good healthcare, but there are a lot of things that aren’t covered.”

Dufour said they applied to receive funding from the March of Dimes Canada, the Rehabilitation Foundation for Disabled Persons, but were denied.  She said for now it looks like the family will be paying out-of-pocket.

Still, the MacDonald’s are remaining in high spirits, especially on Phoenix’s special day.

“It’s really special to see all these supporters,” he said.

“He’s amazing,” said Dufour.  “He went in to see the head neurologist in the London hospital, and (the neurologist) used words like ‘incredible.’  He couldn’t believe how far Phoenix has come in such a short amount of time.”

Betty-Joe said that Phoenix has some movement in his arms, which she said is something the doctors told her Phoenix would be unlikely to achieve.

“We’re hopeful that one day he’ll have enough strength to walk again,” she said.  “For now, hope is definitely the key.”

Second fundraiser planned for teen with spinal cord ailment

 

By Ron Giofu

Although Phoenix MacDonald-Gagnon is making progress, the local youth and his family still need help.

A fundraiser is planned for the AMA Sportsmen Club this Sunday, which is also Phoenix’s 15th birthday. He was stricken with Transverse Myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord, in September 2017 and has been battling the ailment ever since. His journey has included extended hospital stays in London and Toronto but the latest fundraiser will help accommodate his needs at home.

A fundraiser was held in March at the Columbian Club Hall in McGregor for Phoenix MacDonald-Gagnon and Betty-Joe MacDonald being able to attend. A second fundraiser is planned for July 15 at the AMA Sportsmen Association.

According to Phoenix’s aunt Kari Dufour, the proceeds from the July 15 fundraiser will go towards upgrades at the home he stays at when he returns home on weekends. Phoenix and his mother Betty-Joe stay at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto during the week where Phoenix undergoes physical therapy.

On weekends, they return home and stay at the home of Misti and Wayne Moyer.

“We have noticed that more renovations on the house are needed to help make this Phoenix’s forever home. We are also holding this fundraiser to help raise funds for daily medical supplies that are not covered and we are also trying to get Phoenix an assisted standing device for ongoing at home therapy,” Dufour states in a flyer she is circulating.

The family is uncertain to what extent Phoenix will recover, stating doctors are “unsure” if he will have full use of his arms or be able to walk again. He utilizes a wheelchair to get around.

The fundraiser will be from 3-6 p.m.

Tickets are $20 with children 10-and-under being $10. For tickets, please call Dufour at 519-819-9723 or Misti MacDonald-Moyer at 519-965-1514.

A fundraiser held for the family in McGregor in March topped $17,000, with those proceeds earmarked for an accessible home, the wheelchair, medications and 24/7 assistance.

“Addy’s Angels” hold fundraiser for four-year-old with mitochondrial disease

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Four-year-old Addy Weith and her mom Lisa came to Amherstburg Sunday on the weekend where Addy was the guest of honour.

A group of volunteers known as “Addy’s Angel’s,” which include Addy’s grandmother Mickey Dinunzio and great-aunt Heather Amlin, presented a fundraiser for “Addy’s Journey.” The Sunday fundraiser at the Columbus Community Hall raised money to pay for a bus to go Hudsonville, Michigan Aug. 5 for a large fundraiser there. Hudsonville is where the Weith family, including Addy’s twin sister Norah and dad Eric, live.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Lisa. “I saw the parking lot and thought ‘oh my goodness.’ It’s pretty special.”

Lisa is originally from Amherstburg and is a graduate of General Amherst High School. She said it was great to be back in her hometown, reconnect with people she hasn’t seen in a while, and know it is all to help her daughter.

Addy’s Angels, a local group raising money to help four-year-old Addy Weith, held a fundraiser last Sunday. (Photo by Danica Skakavac)

There was a hospital stay for Addy a few weeks ago that Lisa described as “rough,” as Addy was in intensive care for a few days. She recovered from that and the family hopes she stays in good health for a while longer.

Mitochondrial disease, also known as Leigh Syndrome, is a severe neurological disorder characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities. The disease typically results in death in two to three years after diagnosis due to respiratory failure. As Addy and her family deal with that, they are comforted by the fact there are fundraisers such as the one Sunday and the one in Hudsonville Aug. 5. Another recent event for Addy and her family was a special day on a trolley with her favourite TV character Daniel Tiger.

Dinunzio said details will be forthcoming in the foreseeable future about how people can get on the bus and visit with the family in Michigan in August. She said they were ready for over 100 people last Sunday.

“It’s a small town with a huge heart,” she said of Amherstburg.

“Everything was donated, even the hall,” said Amlin.

Amlin pointed out the Weith family has a great support system on both sides of the border.

“It’s just incredible the amount of people who are involved,” added Lisa. “Saying thank you doesn’t seem big enough for everything we’ve been getting.”

For more information on the Aug. 5 event in Hudsonville, Michigan, e-mail heather_amlin@yahoo.ca or brouwer.1@hotmail.com. People can also call Amlin at 519-713-9293.

House Youth Centre presents “Spa Day”

 

 

By Danica Skakavac

 

The House Youth Centre has held many different events over the years, including their annual Spa Day Fundraiser.

For the fifth year in a row, the House opened its doors to welcome anyone interested in a day filled with relaxation. The recent event was held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a $30 participation charge, which covered all three different spa services. A $10 walk-in fee was also offered, for those who wished to just shop the vendors and enjoy the food.

Besides some massages, the House offered an ice cream and coffee bar (food is catered by Coffee and Cream), live entertainment (performed by Will Hawksworth), free goodie bags and the chance to shop at vendors promoting local businesses.

The House Youth Centre recently presented their annual “Spa Day” fundraiser.

Additionally, those who attended had the chance to enter in a raffle and win many available prizes. The planning of the event began back in early January, with many hours from staff and volunteers put towards organizing it.

All the funds earned go towards the House of Shalom’s youth program, which is weekly peer mentoring, and will cover the operational cost of the program’s supplies and staffing fees.

“We’re hoping to just have a relaxing and pampering day,” says Ashley Marchand, activities co-ordinator at The House. “We really target towards daughters and moms, so we really push it as a Mother’s Day gift.”

Marchand went on to say that she hears a lot that mothers really just want that chance to relax and not have to do anything, which is what the Spa Day Fundraiser was really geared towards.

“The best part about volunteering is the respect they give us,” says Carrie Deslippe from Above and Beyond, one of the massage therapy clinics that took part.

With two other clinics giving their time to the event and countless other local businesses, the fifth annual Spa Day Fundraiser at the House Youth Centre was a success and will be anticipated for more years down the road.