You can’t write charity without ‘a-r-t’

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As the kids at Bellerose High School start up their annual Bikeathon fundraiser today, they’ll have some inspiration on the wall and on the auction block courtesy of art teacher Lindsay Bracken. She created a 36″ by 48″ melted wax painting of late Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie from an image of him singing at one of his last concerts before he passed away due to a terminal brain tumour.

She has donated it for a raffle and 100 per cent of the proceeds will be shared between the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Kids with Cancer Society. Anyone can bid on the painting until 11 a.m. on Friday.

“Originally I wanted it to be a surprise because I always donate money to the head shave. Now that I’ve been painting quite consistently, I thought it would be a nice way to do something original and unique,” she said.

The colossal 48-hour event with nearly the entire student body starts at 11 a.m. today in the school’s atrium. The Bikeathon has raised more than $2.1 million since it started in 2003. Donations to either of the two charities can also be made online via links found on the school’s website at bchs.spschools.org.

At the same time, Bracken has another art fundraiser happening at Edmonton’s Nook Café. All proceeds of sales from her paintings there go toward the suspended button program, which features a large vase filled with buttons and good, old-fashioned ‘pay it forward’ hospitality.

“If someone’s in need of a hot cup of tea or coffee or a day-old pastry, they can use one of the buttons to get that.”

It’s located at 10153 97 St.

Local crowdfunding – part 1

Young Ezra Johnson was just like any other active 14-month-old until he contracted a rare case of serogroup B meningitis nearly two weeks ago. He was rushed to the hospital and has been treated to reduce the swelling in his brain and to control his seizures.

“The nurses and doctors have been phenomenal with his care,” offered his aunt Michelle Johnson.

She reported that Ezra’s father Jesse said that the child has since been able to open his eyes although they are unsure if he can see.

“He’s not alert nor is he talking and there is a chance that could never happen. He is going to start receiving physiotherapy.  At this point, they are still unsure how much function he will regain.”

The family has been by his side ever since, taking time off from work to do so. That means that they now have the extra worry of their finances. Johnson started a crowdfunding campaign to help keep them going in this trying time. They have almost reached the halfway mark toward their goal of $25,000 to help them pay for basic necessities while staying at the hospital and for medical needs. The campaign can be found at www.gofundme.com/we-can-move-mountains-together.

Local crowdfunding – part 2

One local mother is asking for people’s help to attend a special medical conference that will benefit her daughter. Blakelee Mayr has an extremely rare genetic disorder called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, which has significant impacts on both her physical and intellectual development. She is non-verbal and unable to walk, has slight hearing difficulties and feeds via a gastrostomy tube. Many kids like her suffer from bowel obstructions, feeding complications, pneumonia, learning difficulties and muscle tone issues.

What makes matters more difficult is finding a medical professional to take her to.

“In Canada, there is no specialist that is specific to that syndrome. In the States, they have eight to 12 doctors,” said Kass Mayr, the five-year-old’s mother.

The American Foundation for Cornelia De Lange Syndrome puts on this four-day event every two years, offering one-on-one consultations, medical help, and other tools that they can take home to their family physicians. There are programs for the families to attend together plus they also get to connect with other families and build their community.

For the Mayrs to attend this invaluable conference in Minneapolis would take $5,000. That’s money that they just don’t have. Kass Mayr started a crowdfunding campaign (found at www.gofundme.com/4ydjw1k) that she hopes will help her to raise enough for the trip. People can also contact her directly via email at kassmayr@outlook.com.

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.