Karen MURPHY CORR
Friday’s charity basketball game between the BC Lions and the St. John Brebeuf Bears brought cheers from the crowd and a smile to the face of a Grade 8 boy fighting cancer for the second time.
Josh, and his parents Cheryle and Angelo, sat courtside for the Hoops for Hope game.
Seated on a padded couch, Josh had a front row seat to the contest which attracted more than 600 fans.
Josh has a soft-tissue cancer tumour hidden behind his cheekbone and is again undergoing chemotherapy for rhabdomyosarcoma, which was initially diagnosed in December 2009.
It responded to treatment and was in remission until this past January.
The family cannot find a doctor in B.C. willing to operate, but a surgeon at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston, MA, may perform an operation.
The provincial medical plan will pay the medical fees for Josh, but not the family’s travel and associated costs.
The game was hosted to help raise funds for the family. All proceeds from the event, including admission, a silent auction, 50-50 draw and photos taken with the Grey Cup, were donated to the cause.
While final figures are not yet available, organizers are confident the goal of $4,000 was easily surpassed.
“The community support is very overwhelming. It’s incredible to see everyone here tonight,” said Angelo.
The family’s surname is not being published at the request of the family.
SJB player Joseph Songcayauon, 17, was thrilled to accept the challenge from the Lions to raise money to help Josh’s family:
“Playing these guys, even if it’s not at their game, is playing professionals. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The youth gave the Lions a workout and earned their admiration.
“These kids are very fast,” said Akeem Foster, a BC Lions receiver, as he wiped sweat from his brow.
“They’re tiring me out!”
The Lions won the game 84-49.
Linebacker Joash Gesse said that he and the other Lions didn’t hesitate to donate their time to a good cause.
“They’re happy and we’re happy,” said Gesse, motioning to the stands.
“All these kids have smiles on their faces because we’re all cheering on Josh.”
St. John Brebeuf is a local private Catholic school.
Donations to help the family travel to Boston for medical treatment may be sent to:
Hoops for Hope for Josh
c/o St. John Brebeuf Secondary School
2747 Townline Rd., Abbotsford, B.C.