Margie Hibbard says the response to the Sunday fundraiser for Wills Hodgkinson, a Penticton child undergoing cancer treatment at the B.C. Children’s Hospital, is amazing.
“We’re looking at close to 100 silent auction items,” said Hibbard, adding there will be events for both kids and adults, like the adult-only balloon pop, which will have a selection of pizza, coffee, beer, wine and similar adult prizes.
“There’s the bake sale, mostly supplied by the Holy Cross volunteers but other people from the community are bringing baking,” said Hibbard.
Hodgkinson is a seven-year-old Holy Cross student who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer, a Wilm’s tumour. In Hodgkinson’s case, his doctors say the tumour has likely been growing since before he was born and has grown so large that it has attached itself to his spleen, pancreas and colon.
Hodgkinson is undergoing six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy at the Teck Acute Care Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, in hopes of shrinking the tumour enough so it detaches from his other organs and can be removed safely, along with the kidney it is attached to.
Will’s father, Tim, reports that the chemotherapy is starting to show its effects on the little boy’s systems.
“We had a couple of good days in a row where Wills was recovering from the aborted surgery and feeling quite good,” said Tim, adding that Wills has just gone through another round of chemotherapy, stepping up to the stronger doses.
“The chemo is kicking in, it needs to do its job, but its distressing for him,” said Tim. Wills’ mother Neely and two-year-old sister are all staying by Wills’ side through the ordeal. “The irony is, that’s a good sign.”
Hibbard and Tricia Hernes have been organizing a fundraiser to help support Hodgkinson and his family through this crisis. The event takes place in the Adidas Sportsplex on Sunday, March 11 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
One person sure to be there is RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk. A kidney cancer survivor himself, he paid a visit to Hodgkinson in Vancouver last week.
“It was very very touching and very special day for everybody. We were just glad to be able to do it,” said Moskaluk. “We’re kind of kin in the sense that we both suffer from kidney cancer, different types of kidney cancer, but nonetheless kidney cancer.
“So I can certainly try and brighten up his day. And so Sheanne (Dan’s wife) and I headed down there.”
Moskaluk said they were at the acute care centre for a couple of hours.
“We spent quite a bit of time one on one with Wills and then there was at least four other families that kind of gathered around and the kids as well,” said Moskaluk, adding it was rewarding for him to cheer up the kids, visiting in his red serge uniform, and being able to empathize with what they’re going through.
“At a younger age it must be even much more difficult for them,” said Moskaluk, confirming his plans to be at the fundraiser. “It’s a matter of supporting him and showing community spirit — this and mindfulness for him that day.”
Another feature will be a wishing well in the Sportsplex lobby. People can make donations there, but at the same time, they can write a wish to Hodgkinson and pin it onto the roof of the well.
“Then we’ll collect all of those wishes and put them into a scrapbook to send down to Wills,” said Hibbard, adding there will also be craft tables for the younger set, like making cancer ribbon glitter tattoos in gold for kidney cancer.
“On the field, we will have the bouncy castle from Par-T-Perfect. The Pinnacles coaches will be running some soccer activities and we’ve got the archery set from LocoLanding,” said Hibbard, adding that the field activities are only from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m., in order to make room for previously booked soccer events.
“The silent auction itself is going to close at four o’clock, so people will be able to place bids from 2 to 4 p.m. and they will be able to buy baking from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Tim Hortons is also coming with hot chocolate and coffee and, I believe, donuts and muffins.”
Tim said he and Neely are humbled by the support the community is showing.
“Both Neely and I, we’ve been in a bubble, so we were unaware of the extent of what’s been going on back in Penticton and Naramata,” said Tim. “Honestly, we’re speechless. It’s unbelievable.”
Hibbard said she and Hernes are the main organizers, but there has been no shortage of help or people volunteering donations.
“It’s been amazing. We’ve got close friends of Tim and Neely that are taking the letters and putting them out to the community,” said Hibbard, adding that about half the donations are coming from people who contacted them wanting to help. “It’s not us spending our time seeking and collecting. People are just saying ‘where can we drop it off?’ and then they do.”
Hibbard said it’s really the community that’s made it so easy to have the number of items at the fundraiser. That ranges from dreamcatchers, wine baskets, sports memorabilia, art, photography and gift certificates.
“You name it, we’ve got it,” said Hibbard, adding that people who can’t make it to the Sunday event are asking how they can donate.
We do have an account set up through Valley First Credit Union. People can make deposits there, or they can write cheques and drop them off to Time Flies (197 Warren Ave. E), just in trust for Wills Hodgkinson, or they can e-transfer to Tricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
There is also a GoFundMe page set up at 7 Yr Old Wills Set To Fight Cancer.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News