Two Northern B.C. Royal Canadian Legions received a donation from an ALS patient’s fundraiser, after the disease claimed the patient’s life earlier this year.
Just before losing the battle to ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Patrick Caden’s dying wish was to donate the remaining funds from his Go FundMe fundraiser to two local legions — Prince George branch of the legion and the Smithers branch of the legion, said Caden’s mother Michelle.
“One of Pat’s final wishes was and one of the things he kept saying was ‘I want to give some money to the legions for soldiers who are having a hard time with PTSD, are struggling physically or mentally, so whatever they need.’ Because he lived in Prince George and was raised in Smithers, he wanted both the legions to get funds, so that was what we did,” she said.
Both the legion branches were touched by the very generous and unexpected donation of $10,000 each.
Margaret Goings, the president for the Royal Canadian Legion Prince George branch said that they were all still very stunned by the huge donation and were very touched. She also said that the money would be put to good use and would be very helpful for the veterans.
Smithers Legion president, Ron Stephens acknowledged the contribution on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion Smithers branch 63.
“When someone leaves us a contribution like this we are very thankful to be able to use the funds to help veterans and associates in the community,” he said.
Both legions said they wanted to celebrate Caden’s contribution and create some form of memorial in his honour. The Prince George Legion for example, will be putting up a plaque in his honour on their Remembrance Wall and the Smithers legion will also be doing something similar.
“This means a lot to the legion and we will honour Pat with his picture and a plaque at our local branch,” said Kristal Grenkie of the Smithers legion.
The Go FundMe, which was organized by the former Smithers resident and North Peace smoke jumper’s friend, was to raise money for treatment after Caden was diagnosed with the rare and incurable condition of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2019, at the age of 42 years. Most of the money raised through the Go FundMe was spent on Caden’s treatments, testing, etc. and so, the intention with which that money was raised, was met, stated . The funds that were left over after Caden’s passing were the ones donated to the legion.
“Patrick was just such a generous soul. At the end of the day, Pat’s time in the military was absolutely foundational for his future. It informed so many of the things that he did in his life and it really created a whole pathway for his physical attitude, his endurance, his capabilities to excel in all the very physically demanding occupations he had. He was just so grateful for the time he spent as an infantry man and he was a veteran. So it was just something that was extremely important to him,” said Caden’s sister, Rheanna Robinson, who has been a strong advocate for bringing better treatment options for residents of B.C.
“Our whole family is going to continue with the ALS advocacy. ALS is an under-resourced, under-researched and under-funded disease in Canada and the more people that participate in the advocacy platform, the more it will change. And it has to change. It is unacceptable and we need to do much better for the Canadians living with ALS,” said Robinson.
In addition to legion donations, funds from a silent auction fundraiser that was held for Pat will be donated to School District 54, for the establishment of an annual bursary in his memory.