Lauren Baillargeon

Catholic Women’s League’s “High Tea” popular with local ladies

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

Columbus Community Hall was filled to the brim with tea, music and very fancy hats thanks to a recent sold out event.

The St. John the Baptist Catholic Women’s League’s (CWL) annual high tea was once again held at the hall, and, as in previous years, the event sold out.

According to CWL president Sharon Barron, all 150 tickets were gone “almost immediately.”

Bernice Deslippe listens to her friends chat at CWL’s high tea event. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

“That (ticket number) is really all we can handle,” she said.  “We make all of the food ourselves.  We were here until late last night and were back early this morning preparing it.”

The menu featured a variety of sandwich types, scones, desserts and, of course, tea.  Between the wide assortment of refreshments and the incredible variety of hats, the afternoon was certainly one of heterogeneity.

While the women munched, sipped and chatted, Lauren Baillargeon and Allison Brown provided entertainment in the way of country fiddle, ukulele, mandolin, guitar and vocal tunes.

In addition to playing music, 13-year-old Baillargeon does a little bit of fund raising of her own.  Along with her mother, brother and sister, she has raised around $40 thousand in the fight against cancer.  She and her siblings have even earned themselves a nickname.  Together, they make up the Kids Curing Cancer (KCC).

“All of the money I’m making today will be going towards that,” she said. “The money they will be giving me tonight, the CD sales and the tips from the (instrument) case will all be going to it.”

By the end of the night, Baillargeon had added another $778 to KCC’s list of raised sums.

Carol Laing poses for a photo at the Columbus Community Hall. The Amherstburg Catholic Women’s League used the venue to host their annual high tea. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

All the CWL’s proceeds were donated to Saint John the Baptist Parish and to local charities.  Its revenue came from ticket sales and purchases from an “accessories table,” where attendees could pick up wearable baubles, purses and the like.

“The generosity of our women is amazing,” said Barron.  “They’re very involved both within the church and in the larger community.  They have very big hearts.”

If the recent event was any indication, they also have very big hats.

Kids Curing Cancer donates $13,750 to Fight Like Mason Foundation

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

It’s not very often a 13-year-old deals with $13,750.  It’s even rarer that they decide to hand it off to someone else.

Nonetheless, 13-year-old Lauren Baillargeon, along with her younger siblings Kierstyn and Ty, did just that last Sunday when they revealed the amount they’d raised for local non-profit Fight Like Mason.

“There are so many other things a 13-year-old would rather be doing,” said Fight Like Mason co-founder Iain Macri.  “I know that at 13, this isn’t what I was doing.”

Together, the three siblings make up Kids Curing Cancer (KCC).  Over the past five years, they, along with their mother Jodi, have donated more than $39,000 locally to combat the disease.

“We’re not going to stop now,” said Lauren.  “Until cancer is cured, we won’t.”

This is KCC’s most successful year to date.  Over the past five years, its response has grown steadily.  The Baillargeons attribute that to a successful awareness campaign.

“Before we even had a venue (for KCC’s fund raiser night), we had people calling and asking us to save them tickets,” Jodi said.  “We’ve also partnered with Fight Like Mason, which is huge in our area.  Everybody’s heard their name.”

Lauren Baillargeon, Kiersten Baillargeon and Ty Baillargeon of Kids Curing Cancer stand beside Fight Like Mason co-founders Chantelle Bacon and Iain Macri at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery last Sunday. Kids Curing Cancer presented $13,750 to the charity.​

The Fight Like Mason Foundation was created by Iain Macri and Chantelle Bacon after losing their four-year-old son, Mason Bacon-Macri, to rhabdomysarcoma, a form of childhood cancer.  Fight Like Mason funds cancer research and provides custom palliative care supplies to youths suffering from the disease.

KCC was created in the memory of Dan Gerard, the Baillargeon siblings’ grandfather.  KCC raises and donates money to cancer-fighting initiatives.  In the past, recipients have been the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation and Ronald McDonald House.

Both organizations said they do what they do for the same reason.

“We’ve taken the loss of the kids’ grandpa, who they were incredibly close with, and turned it into something positive,” Jodi said.  “Obviously, we still miss him and wish he was here with us, but for the kids to be able to hold up his picture and be proud and know that he would be proud of them is incredible.”

“We thought we would do Mason no greater honour than to carry on his name, way of life and legacy in the form of a foundation,” said Macri and Bacon.  “To turn this life-shattering tragedy of losing a child into something positive.”

The charities exchanged gifts after the reveal of funds.  KCC brought a book for Fight Like Mason about “loving and caring about someone you have lost.”

Fight Like Mason handed each of the children a pendant in the shape of an M to commemorate the work they’d done together.

Both charities expressed an appreciation for the other and said they hope to work together again in the future.

 

Kids Curing Cancer presents sold-out fundraiser

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a night that featured food, music and superheroes and, like in previous year’s, a local elementary school student helped organize it.

Kids Curing Cancer (KCC) returned Saturday evening with a new venue – Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery – and it drew a large crowd to support the cause. This year’s proceeds will benefit the Fight Like Mason Foundation, a charitable organization set up in memory of Mason Macri.

Macri succumbed to cancer June 27, 2016 when he was only four-years-old and the Fight Like Mason Foundation was created shortly thereafter.

“Everything is awesome. It’s just what we expected and more,” said Lauren Baillargeon, a Grade 8 student at Malden Central Public School who helped organize the event with the help of her family. “We are sold out at 250 tickets.”

As of Sunday night, the dinner raised over $7,000 with donations still coming in. Combined with other fundraisers, such as KCC’s recent “Hockey Day,” they have surpassed $12,000.

Ty, Lauren and Kierstyn Baillargeon stand with Mason Macri’s parents Chantelle Bacon and Iain Macri at Saturday night’s Kids Curing Cancer fundraiser at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Kids Curing Cancer was started in memory of her grandfather Dan Gerard, who died of cancer in 2014. This year’s event was the fifth annual. It originally began when Baillargeon, with the help of her mother Jodi, helped make bracelets and ended up raising over $3,800.

“Everyone knows my grandpa. Everyone knows the hard work we are doing,” said Baillargeon. “People want to help as they have had someone who died or who went through cancer.”

The family never thought Kids Curing Cancer would grow like it has.

“I never thought it would get this big,” said Baillargeon. “I thought it would be one year of selling bracelets. That’s it.”

Baillargeon said they love their new venue, noting they had been there before for other events and came away impressed.

“We had no doubts about coming here,” she said. “It’s beautiful so why not stay here?”

Music has been a big part of their family with Baillargeon getting a love of music from her grandfather. That was demonstrated at the Kids Curing Cancer fundraiser when the family, including Jodi, Lauren, and Lauren’s siblings Ty and Kierstyn took to the stage.

“When you love what you do, it just kind of loves you back. My grandfather loved music and it loved him back,” said Baillargeon. “It’s part of what we do now. It’s become a tradition.”

Lauren Baillargeon and Kenneth MacLeod perform Saturday night.

The event saw over 100 door prizes donated.

“It’s all our family, friends and neighbours,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

Previous KCC fundraisers have benefited the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation and Ronald McDonald House. The Fight Like Mason Foundation will use its proceeds towards its programs.

KCC held a concert late last year at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and held the annual “Hockey Day” at the Libro several weeks ago.

“It’s so amazing,” said Chantelle Bacon, Mason’s mother. “Kids are helping other kids in honouring Mason. It’s overwhelming. It’s beautiful.”

Lauren Baillargeon sings as members of the band, which includes family members, perform around her at the Kids Curing Cancer benefit Feb. 17 at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

“These kids are honouring him by raising money,” added Iain Macri, Mason’s father. “You can’t ask for anything else. It’s amazing to watch.”

Both Kids Curing Cancer and the Fight Like Mason Foundation can be “liked” on Facebook with KCC’s Facebook site being www.facebook.com/kidscuringcancerforgrandpa. The Fight Like Mason Foundation’s website is www.fightlikemason.org.

Kids Curing Cancer Hockey Day raises over $4,820

By Ron Giofu

 

Kids With Cancer (KCC), a local group of youth supported by parents and family members, held their “hockey day” as another way to give back.

KCC held the event for the first time last year and brought it back in 2018 with all levels of hockey participating. The event was held in partnership with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) and the Amherstburg Admirals.

Baillargeon, a Grade 8 student at Malden Central Public School, was one of the seven or so volunteers helping out.

“We have all the kids wearing arm bands,” she said.

The even raised $4,820.45 this year, $479 more than in 2017.

Kierstyn, Ty and Lauren Baillargeon stand with a display featuring Mason Macri and the Fight Like Mason Foundation.

The team that raises the most money wins a pack of tickets for an upcoming Windsor Spitfires game. Players with the most donations get put into a draw for a prize donated by Canadian Tire. People could also buy raffle tickets for an Spitfires’ jersey autographed by last year’s Memorial Cup winning team. There was also a goalie stick signed by Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro being raffled off.

Baillargeon said that Accurate Creations helped make the arm bands that the players wore and Western Secondary School helped with the sewing of the bands. She said they wouldn’t have been able to have them if not for the assistance of those two groups.

Baillargeon also recently hosted “Lauren Baillargeon and Friends” at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Amherstburg. It was a Sunday afternoon concert where they tried to raise funds as well.

With the support of her family, Baillargeon began Kids Curing Cancer nearly five years ago after the death of her grandfather Dan Gerard. Kids Curing Cancer has raised over $25,000 for a number of charities and causes since its creation, Baillargeon explained, including for Windsor Regional Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

Lauren Baillargeon, founder of Kids Curing Cancer, ties an arm band during KCC’s “Hockey Day” held all day Sunday at the Libro Centre.

This year’s charity of choice is the Fight Like Mason Foundation, a charity created in memory of Mason Macri. Macri succumbed to cancer June 27, 2016 when he was only four-years-old and the Fight Like Mason Foundation was created shortly thereafter.

Baillargeon explained that her family, including siblings Kierstyn and Ty, have done various things over the years to raise money including hair cuts, family “boot camps,” shopping sprees, key chain sales, and CD sales as well as concerts.
The main pasta dinner fundraiser will be Feb. 17 at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. That event is sold out.

Baillargeon said the Fight Like Mason Foundation is focusing on personalizing IV poles and dressing them up with superhero themes to comfort children battling with cancer. There are also stuffed animals dressed as superheros going into ambulances, Baillargeon added.

Many people have helped make events like the hockey day a success, she continued.

“It’s not just us doing it,” said Baillargeon. “Everyone is making it happen.”

Kids Curing Cancer holds fourth annual fundraiser

 

 

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.

Lauren Baillargeon plays the violin during the “Kids Curing Cancer” event she helped organize last Saturday.

Lauren Baillargeon plays the violin during the “Kids Curing Cancer” event she helped organize last Saturday.

“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.

The Baillargeon family performs during the Kids Curing Cancer event held at The Fort Family Fun Centre (formerly known as the Verdi Club) Feb. 25.

The Baillargeon family performs during the Kids Curing Cancer event held at The Fort Family Fun Centre (formerly known as the Verdi Club) Feb. 25.

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.