Pina Cotesta admits her vision may be a little too hopeful, but if the spirit that swarmed the gymnasium during the Lockerby cancer drive launch Oct. 16 is any indication, she may be onto something.
The Laura Cotesta Kids Caring for Kids cancer drive was started 18 years ago by Pina’s eldest daughter, Laura, for whom the drive is now named.
While battling cancer, Laura and her family were forced to travel to Toronto for treatment since there were no pediatric cancer facilities in Sudbury at the time. Laura’s experiences inspired her to help create the door-to-door fundraising event in hopes of helping other children.
Children like Kameryn Jayne Vanwallegham.
The eight-year-old is currently undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. And although, the family had to temporarily move to Toronto so Kameryn could get the treatment she needed, her mother Leslie said it’s nice to have the cancer clinic in Sudbury for smaller procedures and blood work.
“This cancer drive is incredibly important,” Leslie said. “All the money raised here stays in Sudbury and helps to support the pediatric oncology centre.”
To date, the cancer drive has raised $600,000 for the Northern Cancer Foundation. Dr. Sean Murray, chief of pediatrics at Health Sciences North, said recent funds have purchased resources that help kids feel more like kids, rather than cancer patients.
“We have a lot of fun things like televisions, video games and movies,” Dr. Murray said. “But our long-term goal is to build a comprehensive clinic space in another building that’s designed for families and children.”
“We have come a long way in 18 years,” Cotesta said. “But hopefully the next 18 will bring us closer to having a world-class centre here in our area.”
Students from Lockerby Composite and MacLeod Public School will be going door-to-door collecting donations on Oct. 29 between 5-9 p.m. Residents can also donate online at lockerbycancerdrive.com.