People came to Penticton from up and down the Okanagan Valley Sunday to show support for a seven-year-old boy suffering from a rare form of kidney cancer, helping raise over $17,000 along with 40 video messages recorded and nearly 100 notecard wishes collected to send to Wills Hodgkinson.
Tricia Hernes and Margie Hibbard, along with a host of volunteers, organized a fundraiser to help support Wills Hodgkinson, a seven-year-old Holy Cross student who was recently diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumour. His father Tim, mother Neely and two-year-old sister Scarlett are staying with him as he undergoes radiation and chemotherapy at the Teck Acute Care Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
“The whole Okanagan has just banded together for Wills,” said Hibbard, adding that it was about more than just raising money. “It was really important to Tim and Neely that this was something the community got something out of as well. It is their way of thanking the community for all their support.”
Hibbard said the main goal was to get an event together that was centred around Wills’ favourite things and to have a place where people could send him messages. Those notes and other messages will be collected in a scrapbook to be delivered to Wills along with a video that is being made of the event.
“That’s the difference maker,” said Hibbard. “When he is in his treatments, or he is not feeling well, it is something he can play again and again. Hopefully, that is going to make the difference, keep his spirits up and make it a little gentler. It’s more about keeping his spirits up, keeping his strength up.”
Wills’ grandmother, Dee McDonald, attended the event. She said she was overwhelmed by the support.
“The whole family is too. Absolutely overwhelmed,” said McDonald. “What can I say? Thank you, a big, big thank you.”