The community continues to rally around 12-year-old Emma Grace Smith, whose battle with cancer has taken a financial toll on the family.
An old-timers hockey game and supporting event called An Afternoon for Emma is set for Saturday at Pearkes arena from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Smith has battled brain and spine cancer since a 2014 relapse following her initial recovery from brain cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2012. Several times the diagnosis has pulled Emma’s father Darrell away from his overseas work as a project manager. With Emma’s worsening condition (she is too weak to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments) he has committed to being with the family, and unable to find a means of work in the meantime. The financial toll has caught up, and the community around the Smith family has come together to make ends meet.
“We hope [the game] will be a show of love, of compassion, of generosity, and will demonstrate how much our community cares for such a beautiful young girl and her family,” said Ted Balderson of the local Blackhawks team that is putting the event together.
“When we first heard about her in 2014 we held a fundraiser game and that earned $10,000, so we think we can do even better this time,” Baldderson said. “Each player has to pay $300, so that’s $9,000 right there.”
The game will have a celebrity element as local NHL linesman Trent Knorr (and possibly Lonnie Cameron) will be on the ice, while members of this year’s Tour de Rock Cops for Cancer team (Emma has been a junior rider for years) will also be on hand, as well as mascots Marty the Marmot, Harvey the HarbourCat and Bauer Brave.
One of the captains for the game will be Chris Fairlie of Gordon Head, who is currently fighting Stage 3 cancer. Fairlie is the captain of the old-timers team, which is actually 30 members strong. The team will split into two, wearing their brand new home and away jerseys.
Fairlie was diagnosed with cancer on July 25, 2015, and has since undergone six rounds of chemotherapy and 37 rounds of radiation.
“In my life, I’ve been very fortunate for the care that I’ve received,” Fairlie said. “I’m proud to be from Greater Victoria, and it’s heartbreaking to see what Emma is going through, or to even have that happen to any young child.”
Fog and flashing lights will entertain as the players enter the rink, though the hockey is “just a bunch of old guys with their hearts in the right place,” Balderson admits.
And though it’s unlikely Emma will be there, her brother Charlie, 10, and dad Darrell, will be the guest coaches. A family skate will follow the game.
The name for the hockey game, An Afternoon for Emma, is consistent with the recent Evening for Emma at Oak Bay High on May 29. The evening included a series of dance performances from most of the studios in town, as well as a silent auction that pulled in more than $13,000 for the Smith family.
Jenna Holmes spearheaded the Evening for Emma. The former dance teacher was once at the same studio Emma attended.
“The first time Emma was diagnosed with cancer the studio did a fundraiser event,” Holmes said. “Then it did an event the second time. This time, I wanted to do something again, and I literally looked up every single business in town, sent a big email and was shocked by the amount of people that responded.”
The donations were generous and from all types of businesses throughout Greater Victoria.
WestJet chipped in a pair of tickets to anywhere it flies, which sold for $1,300. Phillips Brewing donated two tickets to the Backyard Weekender (July 8-10). There were restaurant donations, premium hotel stays, and all kinds of goods and services.
The event packed the new Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High, with only about 50 tickets available to sell at the door, which they did.
“I’m overwhelmed by the amount of support we received,” Holmes said. “Nearly everything sold at retail or more than retail value.”
Holmes also said she received positive feedback from the dance studios, as it is rare to get them all together for something that isn’t a competition.
“It would not have been possible without the donors, the volunteers (20), Oak Bay and Lansdowne schools, the theatre manager, the community at large who came together, the Oak Bay and Lansdowne principals who MC’d the event, and the dancers from the studios that donated their time to participate,” Holmes said.
The Smith family’s ongoing fundraising campaign is online at gogetfunding.com/helpemma.