Karen MURPHY CORR
The 2011 Grey Cup Champion BC Lions will take to the basketball court in Abbotsford on Friday, as they take on the St. John Brebeuf Bears in a fundraiser for a Grade 8 boy battling cancer.
It’s Josh’s second fight with the disease. He has rhabdomyosarcoma, which was first diagnosed just days after his birthday in December of 2009.
(The family has requested that their last name not be published.)
The soft-tissue cancer tumour was in remission after treatment until it was diagnosed again in January.
When a former employee of Josh’s father heard the news, she turned to her current employer Kim Chapdelaine, the wife of BC Lions offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jacques Chapdelaine.
“I know Kim and Jacques are always very involved in the community and whenever they can they take the opportunity to help those in need around them,” explains Alicia Borsoi, who has worked for Kim Chapdelaine’s S.O.A.R. Training for 10 years.
She knew that the Chapdelaines would have two days with the Grey Cup, and had in the past held a fundraising event for a teenaged boy at an Abbotsford high school.
The couple supported the idea and together with Borsoi approached the principal at the Catholic high school about organizing the fundraiser with the BC Lions.
“I hope people will enjoy the evening, have fun with the Grey Cup and the Lions, but focus on Josh and how as a group we can do anything,” says Kim Chapdelaine, who with Borsoi has arranged for the pride of B.C. football to come and try their skill at shooting baskets against the senior boys team.
Spectators will get a chance to enjoy the game and meet the BC Lions players, as well as have a photo taken with the Grey Cup for a donation.
Josh is planning to be at the game, says his mother, Cheryle.
He will start his second course of chemotherapy the following week, which is physically challenging for him. Josh’s father, Angelo, and brother Costa, a university student, help to distract the 13-year-old from the nausea by playing Xbox games with him.
“The tumour is hidden behind his cheekbone and he is undergoing treatment,” Cheryle explains.
“He has an MRI in a few weeks to assess it and because of the location we go from there.”
There is no surgeon in British Columbia who will attempt to operate on Josh’s tumour, and they are awaiting word from a surgeon at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston, MA.
The provincial medical plan will pay the medical fees, but not the travel and associated costs.
“It’s very humbling that people would do this for our family,” says Cheryle.
“Josh and his older sister Monica are fairly new to this school, and they have totally taken my kids in and taken care of them. They’re family.”
The students at SJB held a talent show as a fundraiser recently, raising about $3,000 for the family.
“I think the fundraising for Josh that St. John Brebeuf is doing is magnificent. They put in so much support and effort,” says Monica, who is in Grade 10 and devoted to her little brother.
Their principal, Ted Brennan, agrees the school community has rallied around Josh, who he says always has a smile on his face.
“Josh is an amazing young man. The other students want to help and they are fundraising and have offered prayers, masses and done works of kindness all in his name. Our goal is to raise over $4,000 Friday night.”
A parent at the school is offering his GAMES2U carnival games for the event for a $1 donation a try, as well as running a giant hamster ball race at half time.
“If we can add a bit of a bright light to this event and help with the fundraising at the same time, then we’re happy to give of our time because we wouldn’t miss this game,” says Daren Alary, master franchiser for GAMES2U in Canada with his business partner Eric Carter.
Alary’s son is in Grade 11 and will be playing in the game against the Lions, and his daughter is in Josh’s class.
Capacity for the match between the Canadian Football League greats and the high school seniors is 600. Donations for Josh and his family will also be accepted at the school office.
Josh is pumped about the event:
“I am very amazed by all the attention I am getting in this past month. I feel very special that the BC Lions are coming to SJB, and very excited to see them and the Grey Cup. Imagine, these are the Grey Cup champions and they are coming for me! This is huge! I can’t wait to see how football players can play basketball. It will be a very interesting game.
“To the organizers – especially Mr. Brennan and Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Chapdelaine – I am very thankful for their support and help as this will make it a lot easier for my parents.
“When my parents told me that my cancer was back I was very upset and sad. When I found out that the students and teachers at SJB have been praying for me, it has given me hope again.
“I feel very lucky and thankful to have so many friends.”