Event raises $35K for young cancer patient
Family with ties to Winteron will stay with son throughout treatment
It has been just over a month since Arden Kennedy was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as Stage 4 neuroblastoma.
The five-year-old has been receiving chemotherapy treatments at IWK Health Centre in Halifax with his parents, Sharon and Paddy, and sister Ashling by his side.
The Kennedys are from Newfoundland — Sharon (maiden name is Ash) is originally from Winterton and Paddy is from Mount Pearl — but moved to Miramichi, N.B. for work.
But as the saying goes, you can take the Newfoundlander off the Rock, but you can’t take the Rock out of Newfoundlanders.
Thanks to family, friends and locals of the Trinity-South region and Mount Pearl, the Kennedys are able to stay in Nova Scotia with Arden.
A group of eight individuals from Winterton, Hant’s Harbour and Heart’s Content organized a successful fundraiser for the Kennedys on Sunday, Feb. 8 at Perlwin Elementary.
Arden’s Super Walk attracted some 300 people from the region and family from Mount Pearl, raising $35,000 in the end. It was named after Arden’s love for Super Mario is what triggered the name.
Jennifer Sheppard is a friend of the Kennedys and was one of the organizers of the event.
“(In early January) we got this news that Sharon’s little boy was sick,” she told The Compass. “Most of her side of the family are from Winterton and Hant’s Harbour, and we just thought we should do something.”
After discussing ideas, the group decided they would host a walk-a-thon. But after determining the weather was too unpredictable for an outdoor walk in February, they reached out to Perlwin Elementary in Winterton for assistance.
“Principal Roger Green was extremely helpful to us,” she said. “(Green) was actually part of the group that provided live music for the full two hours of the event. He even helped move tables.”
Four local companies donated over $1,000 each— Quin Sea Fisheries, Green Seafoods Ltd., Hindy’s Home Hardware and Barry Group.
The remaining $31,000 came from generous donations and a number of events that took place at the super walk.
Non-monetary donations began coming in as soon as the neighbourhood heard there was a fundraiser. Items like hockey tickets, knit mittens and cases of seafood were among the list. Over 100 items were donated, with many sold through a silent auction.
Along with the auction and live music, there was a bake sale, costumed cartoon characters, a free Zumba warm up, raffle tickets on a giant teddy bear and plenty of food. There was also a room for children’s activities.
There was a line up at the door 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start.
“Paddy’s from Mount Pearl, and his whole family came out,” Sheppard noted.
When the event concluded at 4 p.m., they began to tally the donations, and everyone was blown away by the result.
“When we first sat around the table, we had a goal of, initially, $10,000,” Sheppard said. “After some of the items started coming in, I said we were going to do $20,000. In the back of my mind, I was hoping, really hoping, we were going to get $25,000.”
They collected $35,000 for the Kennedys between all the activities and donations. But Sheppard isn’t surprised.
“Rural communities are declining,” she explained. “But one thing we can be really proud of on the Trinity shore, we’re small but we’re extremely mighty. There’s a lot of heart and a lot of caring still left in these communities.”
Many local organizations and not-for-profits also donated to the cause.
The Winterton Recreation Commission, the ACW, UCW, the 50-plus club and the home league, who supplied the food, were all part of the success. Individual municipalities and fire departments gave donations.
“It’s amazing the outpouring of support,” Sheppard said.
When Sharon received the call with the total raised, she was speechless.
Later she told The Compass, “It was very overwhelming and oh so wonderful.”
Arden just finished his second round of chemotherapy treatments in Halifax, but will travel to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital in the near future.
He will have bone marrow harvested and treated for a autologous bone marrow transplant.
The marrow will have the cancer cells removed while Arden returns to Halifax for more chemotherapy, then will travel back to Toronto to have his own marrow returned.
The family issued a thank you on the Facebook page that was used to promote the event, called Arden’s Super Walk.
“We have learned the compassion that lies in people we do not even know and hope to learn from their example. We have learned that Arden is in good hands and that the IWK is the place to be. We know that without question, Arden will get better.
“Your kind words and actions have given us the strength to face the many challenges we will face in the months to come. We will not forget what you have all done for us. Arden will not forget what you have done for him. We will see you all in better times.”
Some of the attendees at Arden’s Super Walk at Perlwin Elementary in Winterton Sunday, Feb. 8.
Arden Kennedy is receiving treatment at IWK Health Centre in Halifax for neuroblastoma.