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Walk raising funds in 'bubbly' 9-year-old's memory

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 02, 2014 - 2:35 PM |
 Nine-year-old Breanna Baxter died of spinal cancer that had spread to her brain Dec. 10, 2009. Supplied photo.

Nine-year-old Breanna Baxter died of spinal cancer that had spread to her brain Dec. 10, 2009. Supplied photo.

Breanna Baxter died of cancer in 2009

Breanna Baxter was a happy, bubbly nine-year-old girl who loved school and always put others before herself.

But in September 2009, when she was about to start Grade 4 at Churchill Public School, she was diagnosed with spinal cancer that had spread to her brain.

Once doctors at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital found out the cancer was inoperable, she was sent home to Sudbury, where she passed away Dec. 10, 2009.

In her memory, Breanna's parents decided to help families who want to keep a child with cancer at home cover medical expenses.

They established the Breanna Baxter Fund through the Northern Cancer Foundation.

“My experience with Breanna was in order to bring her home, we had to pay for medications that weren't covered,” said her mom, Koreen Huard.

Last year, a fundraising walk raised $8,000 for the Breanna Baxter Fund and a book fair at Churchill school brought in another $1,000.

So far this year, $1,800 has already been raised for the fund through a book fair and winter carnival at Churchill.

Huard hopes to raise another $10,000 through the second annual Breanna's Walk for Pediatrics, which will take place starting at 10 a.m. May 10 at the Northeast Cancer Centre.

Wearing purple t-shirts — Breanna's favourite colour — participants will walk up Paris Street to the old St. Joseph's Health Centre and back down to the cancer centre. Huard is hoping 200 people will attend this year.

A golf tournament fundraiser benefitting the fund is also planned for July 26 at Forest Ridge Golf Course.

Huard said it “means a lot” to her that people are raising money in her daughter's memory. “To me, it's keeping her memory alive,” Huard said.

Along with her pupils, Grade 6 Churchill teacher Amanda Rousseau has headed up the school's fundraisers for the Breanna Baxter Fund.

She taught Breanna in Grade 2, and was supposed to be her Grade 4 teacher. Rousseau said it was “heartbreaking” for both herself and her pupils when the little girl was diagnosed with cancer and then died.

“Everybody had been touched by Breanna in some way,” she said. “We all had a bit of a grieving process.”

Although the kids in her current class don't remember Breanna well — she would have been in Grade 8 this year — they've jumped into the fundraising activities with both feet.

“We're all about giving back and doing stuff for the community,” Rousseau said.

The Breanna Baxter Fund has already helped several families over the past year, said Northern Cancer Foundation executive director Tannys Laughren.

She said the cancer centre's pediatric interlink nurse suggests families that would benefit from the fund.

The fact that a family who has lost a child to cancer wants to give back to other families is “astonishing” in itself, Laughren said.

“Most of us can't imagine grieving a child,” she said. “For them to be thinking of others at that time, it's unbelievable ... I consider it a privilege to be working with this family.”

For more information about Breanna Baxter Fund or the upcoming fundraising walk, visit or phone 705-523-HOPE (4673).
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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