Support grows for Saanich youngster battling cancer

Oak Bay High hosts An Evening for Emma Smith on May 29

Emma Smith is all smiles as she receives the proceeds of the recent Chili Fest and Silent Auction from Team Emma Grace members Sharon Macauley

The chili cook-off and silent auction held at St. Peter’s Church in Saanich on April 23 brought in $7,500 for the family of Emma Smith.

The cook-off was organized to raise funds for parents Diane and Darrell, who are devoted to taking care of Emma at their Lakehill neighbourhood home. The 12-year-old has been suffering from aggressive cancer in her brain since 2012 which moved to her spine in 2014. This year it’s taken a particularly harsh toll on the family’s financial situation, as Darrell’s unable to commit to the type of overseas contract work that previously supported the family.

Following the Chili Fest, Smith received the news that her cancer has spread further and the disease has taken a “devastating” turn.

For now, the family and friends are looking ahead to a May 29 event at Oak Bay High called An Evening for Emma Smith. There will be a silent auction and live performances in the brand new Dave Dunnet Community Theatre.

“The cook-off was a big success with over 160 people attending and others dropping off donations,” said neighbour Heather Hanson, who helped co-ordinate the event.

“The people who attended were so generous and supportive of the Smiths’ situation that it brought tears to my eyes,” Hanson said. “I was grateful they understood they were dealing with amateurs and tolerated long lineups with good cheer.”

Six pots of chili were stewed for the competition, with Mike’s Kickin’ Chili by Mike Pickering deemed the winner.

The money will help cover the family’s cost for about two months, Hanson said.

Admission for the May 29 event is $5, with performances beginning at 6:30 p.m. by Allegro Performing Arts Centre, Boston Dance Collective, Dance On It Studios, Karen Clark Dance Studio, Lighthouse Academy of Dance, Oak Bay High School, STAGES Dance Company, Vibestreet Dance, Victoria Academy of Ballet, Victoria Irish Dancers, Wendy Steen Mitchell Dance, Whitespace Dance and special guests Ballet Ètoile.

Among the items for sale are two passes to anywhere WestJet flies, and packages to Fairmont Hotels and Big White Ski Resort. There’s also two Phillips Backyarder weekend passes from Atomique, and gift certificates to Prima Strada Pizzeria, John’s Place Restaurant, the Wizard of Paws Pet Spa, the Bard and Banker, Imax cinema (at RBCM) and more.

Tickets are available in advance at Lansdowne middle school, where Emma is in Grade 7.

“[We appreciate] the hard work of the neighbours and friends who volunteered, the generous response of the community businesses who donated in various ways and the amazing response of the caring,” Hanson said.

Donors can support the Smiths at or at Emma Smith Trust Fund: Transit #02720 Institution #809 Account #4103371690.

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