Rallying around Todd

Cancer treatment has sparked months of fundraising efforts within the close-knit community of Ross Elementary.

  • Dec. 3, 2011 8:00 a.m.
The Barretts in a recent family photo.

The Barretts in a recent family photo.

Kelsey KLASSEN

Contributor

“Todd is going for chemo.”

That simple statement, exchanged between friends in September while waiting for their girls to get out of school, has sparked months of fundraising efforts within the close-knit community of Ross Elementary.

Renee Barrett, mother of a small, hardworking Abbotsford family, had no idea that allowing two women at her eldest daughter’s school in on her heartbreaking news would amount to an outpouring of support over the past few months.

Upon learning that Renee’s husband Todd had been diagnosed on June 23 with Stage 4 cancer, fellow parent Lara Rempel and grandparent Gloryann Houle realized the seriousness of Renee’s admission and were motivated to take action on behalf of her young family.

They organized a series of fundraisers through the school, including a Ford Drive One 4 UR Community test drive event that raised several thousand dollars at the start of fall. With Todd hospitalized again and unable to work, the duo are now reaching out to Abbotsford residents for help.

“They truly are such wonderful people,” said Houle. “If the tables were turned, Todd and Renee would be doing whatever they could to help someone in need. They are both strong, courageous, loving people. They won’t ask for help.”

The outdoorsy couple, both in their late 30s, are long-time residents of Abbotsford. Todd, formerly of Merritt, moved here in 1991, and Renee from Aldergrove a few years later. Together for 15 years and married for nine, they spoke of always wanting a family, and are blessed with daughters Macie, 6, and Chase, 3. When asked to talk about her husband, Renee’s first response was to tell of his love for their daughters.

“Todd is such an amazing father and friend. The girls are so lucky to have such an involved, dedicated and loving father,” said his wife. “The girls are his world and he would do anything for them.”

The Barretts, who friends say enjoy camping and dirtbiking, do everything together. The aggressive cancer, so prevalent the primary source is unknown, has only brought them closer together as a family. Diagnosed after Todd found a lump in his neck, the cancer is spreading quickly, according to Renee.

He was hospitalized for two weeks in July, but treatment was unsuccessful and he is currently back at the Abbotsford Cancer Centre for additional chemotherapy. While it has been a “very scary, sad time,” their attitude remains positive as they rely on each other for support.

“We take it one day at a time and enjoy all the family time we can. The girls are so young … they really don’t understand,” worries Renee. “We pray this one works wonders for Todd.”

Renee left her job of 14 years as a care aide for Tabor Home to oversee her husband’s treatment, and Todd has been unable to return to his work with Dynamic Windows and Doors, where he has been employed since 1999.

With both of them off work, Renee admits their mortgage and normal household bills have been a huge stress, but the hardest part is watching the man she loves suffer.

“He is normally so active, happy and full of energy. Since getting sick he is always in pain … but tries to put on a brave smile every day for us.”

Renee says she is extremely grateful for the help from their work, family and friends. However, Rempel and Houle are hoping that more can be done for the family. They set up a CIBC bank account this week to collect donations (Institute #010, Transit #08820, Account #87-24296, Name: Gloryann Houle TR Barrett).

Houle is calling on members of the Abbotsford business community to step forward with additional fundraising suggestions.

“We could use ideas. It breaks my heart that such terrible things can happen to such a young family.”

Just Posted

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Police say Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months

(Maps.Chilliwack.com)
RCMP seek dash-cam footage after Chilliwack road rage incident

Male driving a black pickup stopped and allegedly threatened to punch another driver

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Agassiz toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Woody’s RV World hosts a grand opening for its brand-new Abbotsford location on Saturday. (YouTube)
Woody’s RV World hosts Abbotsford grand opening on Saturday

First-ever B.C. location for successful RV chain, located on Marshall Road

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read