Monday, 2 November 2020

Planning a surprisingly normal 24-hour game day


Normal is whatever you make of it, and this year has certainly seen a lot of people inventing new normals for themselves.

When it comes to our annual charity gaming event, however, things are pretty much status quo compared to recent years.

We've been busy behind the scenes planning our Extra Life 24-hour game day, the culmination of our annual efforts towards helping the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

Thanks to low COVID-19 case numbers in Medicine Hat (eight active cases as of Monday in a city of 65,000), we've made the decision to have our closest friends over starting at 8 a.m. (Mountain time) on Saturday, Nov. 7. It's a list of 14 people, and they've been our social cohorts since the pandemic began in March so we're confident we're being safe. If any one of us becomes symptomatic this week they'll need a negative COVID test in order to be here.

Fundraising is serious business, but it's also a lot of fun! Back in August we earned a 20-sided die from Extra Life and we are putting it to use for our game day.


Here's how it works: You go to one of our team member's fundraising pages during game day, choose an incentive and we'll roll the die. What happens then? Depends what's rolled. See the document here for the wide array of possibilities! I actually made my own hot sauce this year for No. 6.

For US$5 you can get one person of your choice to do what the die roll dictates. Want us all to do it? That's US$50. Want to pick the thing one person does? That's US$25. And if you want to pick something from the list for us all to do, ante up US$100.

We will be live-streaming at least half of the day's activities, which will include lots of board games, video games and even axe throwing at SixOneSix Entertainment.

There are also other members of the #Dominicstrong team who will do their own thing! We encourage you to check them all out by visiting the team page at https://www.extra-life.org/team/dominicstrong. It all goes to the same wonderful place.

And of course if you want to join our team virtually, there's still lots of time! Feel free to click that team link and sign up yourself.

We do it in memory of Dominic, but also for all the kids in hospital and all of those who benefit from it. So many kids from our community in Medicine Hat get help there and this is one way we can give back.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Birthday thanks

 


Happy birthday Dominic. You would've been eight.


Today's birthday falls on the same day as Thanksgiving here in Canada. Our family all wanted us to come join them but we needed a weekend without travel, or surprise parties, or an online auction.


We spent some time doing normal things. We went on some nice, long walks. We cooked the giant spaghetti squash we grew in the garden this summer and had turkey and buns and carrots with our best friends (who were in a similar boat as we were). We played games and danced and hung out at your park.


We call it your park because it's where your memorial bench is, but it's really just another city park. Samantha can pretty much traverse the whole thing blindfolded, and she knows it's Dominic's park. She knows you're dead but keeps trying to tell me you'll get better and come home. Oh how I wish.


For the past two months she kept seeing people come to the door with gifts, then to pick up the gifts. An entire room in the house was devoted to the online auction, known in the house as Dominic's Auction. So all these things were basically for him.


We raised $8,001 through the auction, and everything's been picked up and accounted for. We've even got some donations promised for next year, which is wonderful. Every penny got donated to the Alberta Children's Hospital through our Extra Life pages, and as usual we're not done fundraising yet. Our 24-hour gaming marathon will happen Nov. 7-8, and you can expect us to check in on the #Dominicstrong Facebook group periodically.


We are thankful for everyone who donated and took part in the auction, but moreso to everyone who helps keep his memory alive. Whether that's by adding a gold ribbon to their social media profile during September (childhood cancer month), reading the odd blog post here, or donating in his memory, it's all appreciated. To all of you, a big thumbs-up.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Community makes the auction

 

When we announced the online auction would take place for the sixth year in a row, we figured it would wind up roughly half the size as the previous ones.


Are we ever glad to be wrong.


In the span of five-and-a-half weeks, we've racked up 107 items for the #Dominicstrong auction benefitting the Alberta Children's Hospital via Extra Life. Time and time again we've been amazed at the generosity of our community.


A friend from an online community we belong to said she'd give a piece of art, then added a foosball table, toy set and air hockey. Another I knew from when she coached and I reported came through with a massive item including a skateboard with two thumbs-up's on it. So many of the longtime contributors to the auction not only said yes again, but in some cases went above and beyond what they usually give.


And that's no slag on anyone who said no. No is what we expected to hear, and for good reason. "Keep us on the asking list for next year," said a few, realizing they simply can't afford handouts right now but still want to support the cause. We'd decided prior to the auction that we will re-ask anyone from 2019 in 2021 anyhow.


A couple we didn't initially ask were the Medicine Hat College Rattlers and Medicine Hat Mavericks. With sports seasons completely cancelled, we just didn't think they'd be in a position to offer anything. But alas, when we did ask, they figured something out.


This year's auction has a bit of everything. From masks to games, jewellery to axe throwing, food and golf, the hope is lots of you see something you like and bid on it. Most important, don't keep the auction to yourself! The more bidders we get, the more money we raise for the hospital. There's no chance we'll meet the $10,000 mark we have the past few years, but every penny helps.


It's all a great reminder that our community is strong, and generous. In the six years it has run, the total amount donated through the auction is $48,116. It's a lot of work but clearly worth it - it's how we parent our son who's not here anymore.


How do you share the auction? This blog post is a good place to start. So, too is the story Chris Brown put together for CHAT News (https://chatnewstoday.ca/2020/09/22/dominicstrong-auction-keeps-dominic-rooneys-legacy-alive). As for direct links, here's the one to the auction album itself (https://www.facebook.com/media/set?set=oa.242004390576370&type=3), though keep in mind that in order to bid you have to actually join the group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/dominicstrong) first.



We do have one extra surprise in store - whoever winds up buying the most auction items will get a special custom-made bag with Natalie Long's word art on it! Bailey Stralia did the bag for us out of the blue, while she was working on some facemasks which are a story on their own: Trish's mom Anne made the masks in Calgary, then Bailey added thumbs-up and hashtag art onto them, then she made pouches with more art to store them in! If that wasn't enough, Eva from St. Albert shipped us ear savers she crocheted for the project.


A lot of things came together for this, and it was made even tougher in the last week when Trish, Samantha and I all came down sick. We had to be tested for COVID but fortunately got the news Thursday night that we're all negative. The auction was never in danger, it's just been a lot of work to get it all up and running!


We hope you have fun, and remember that bidding ends Sunday at 5 p.m. Mountain time.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Five years




The world is different but the pain is the same.


As other parents share pictures of their youngsters going to school again, we took our daughter to Dominic's memorial bench, tied five orange balloons to it, then played at the park. Orange is the colour representing leukemia. We'd have had some gold ones for childhood cancer awareness but alas, they were sold out.


It's been five years since our son took his last breath, since he got those two hours at Disney World, then crashed the next day. Since the hospital in Orlando organized for Mickey Mouse to come visit him, but had to cancel because it was too late.


I think of all the support that came in, from messages on the blog to the lady at the airport who helped with the empty stroller we were pushing on our way home with his ashes.


But most of all I remember his laugh, his thumbs-up, his smile. He'd be such a good brother to our daughter, likely getting in trouble for setting her straight once in a while but also looking out for her.


He can be whatever we want him to be in our imaginations.


We were so used to his world, where wearing masks was normal and you sanitized your hands every time in to the oncology ward. We embraced the change. Needless to say we were ready for this new normal too.


Charity work is slower this year because there's understandably less money going around. As of writing this, we've got 57 items lined up for the #Dominicstrong online auction Sept. 25-27. That's about half as many as last year but I'm still amazed at that level of response. Hopefully we can sell them all, too. Drop by the #Dominicstrong Facebook group if you're interested.


It's been a crazy year, and this fifth anniversary of his death ought to be more sad than the rest. Anniversaries are certainly tough. But in an odd way it's been a happy day so far, intermingled with moments of anguish. We'll take it.





Sunday, 16 August 2020

Online auction announcement


Up is down, left is right, cats and dogs might as well be living together, but the one thing you'd think could stay on track this year is our annual #Dominicstrong online auction.

And yes. Yes it will*

We debated not running an auction. With so many people out of work, businesses shut down and all the other implications of COVID-19, the resources available for fundraising are depleted at every angle.

Other charities have turned to online auctions, to the point we're concerned ours will get lost in the maelstrom. Heck, the Alberta Children's Hospital, which our auction benefits via Extra Life, is running one right now that ends Aug. 21 (check it out here).

But we also know the flipside - families who in normal times would be going through hell dealing with a critical illness are now dealing with so much more. They deserve all of our support. They need it.

And so, our auction will run Friday, Sept. 25 to Sunday, Sept. 27 on the #Dominicstrong Facebook page. This post is the official call for donations. If you or someone you know would like to help the auction, we'd love to hear from you. Email donations@dominicstrong.com or message Sean on Facebook or Twitter if you follow him on those platforms.

We are so thankful to announce the first item in this year's auction already. It's from Natalie Long, whose word art has adorned some of the most memorable items in years past. This cozy blanket has the word art embroidered in a corner.

In previous years we've seen the auction balloon to more than 120 items. We don't think that will happen this year, and that's fine. Similarly, the $10,000 goal we've managed to hit in recent years is simply not realistic. Whatever we raise, it will help. That will be the goal, not to get bogged down in the numbers.

With no local baseball season, Superhero Night won't happen. We similarly have no expectation of holding a mini-golf tournament. So besides this, the only thing we're doing is the main Extra Life gaming marathon in early November. It's crazy to think it'll be five years since Dominic died in September, but we'll keep forging on. It's what you do.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Another new normal

PORCH-RAIT BY BRADLEY EAST PHOTOGRAPHY
(proceeds from this project to a Healthcare Hero Fund through Medicine Hat and District Health Foundation)

You know how people say "I wouldn't wish cancer on my worst enemy?"

Well, in a way, we're all living that nightmare now. It's both worse and not as bad as it sounds.

I chuckle in a perverse sort of way whenever I see someone talking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them into finding a new normal. It's the saying medical families the world over have used - us included - and it's nothing to be scared of.

Accepting and eventually embracing your new circumstances is an important part of surviving something like cancer, a job loss, a death, or being stuck in your house for weeks on end.

Dominic showed us how it's done. After the chemotherapy destroyed his immune system (and, we had hoped, all the cancer cells with it), he could've died from the common cold. So every time nurses came in or out of his room, they had to wear special masks and gloves. The room was constantly being wiped down with medical-grade wipes, which we were warned could actually cause cancer themselves until the cleaning agent in them dried. So you had to wear gloves just to use the wipes.

As a cancer patient, you get used to sanitizing your hands every time you walk down the hallway to the oncology clinic. You know how to take off a pair of plastic gloves so that you don't touch the outside of the gloves. You're scared of door handles, cringe at the thought of handling money and have no problem telling people with any sign of illness to stay the heck away from you.

Seeing everyone else forced to learn these habits is of course sad, but now everybody knows what being immune-suppressed is like. We're all compromised against this new disease. We all have to act like it could kill us, because you don't really know how you'll fare until you've got it. Even if the mortality rate is three per cent, would you seriously play Russian roulette with a 33-chamber gun knowing one of those chambers has a bullet in it?

There are positives to being stuck in isolation. You get creative. I'll never forget seeing Dom sitting in his hospital crib with an entire bag of cheezies strewn around him. You find different ways of keeping in touch: the iPad Dominic was given by the hospital allowed easy FaceTime calls with family, and now our daughter uses it.

We think often about how this situation must be for those in the actual oncology department. Resources are being diverted in our health care system to fight the pandemic, and cancer patients are among those who could be sacrificed as a result. If there's a shortage of masks or gloves, will the cancer units of the world have to do without for a while? How many people will die because their surgeries, or their safety were compromised because a handful of people couldn't be bothered to self-isolate and spread this new disease?

We've been doing our part, staying at home, telling our 3-year-old the #Dominicstrong park has been closed for the past month. We've been lucky because both Trish and I have been able to work from home.

We haven't done any fundraising yet this year. Especially now, with so many people out of work, it doesn't feel right asking for money for a charity. But given all the help the health care system needs, I'd be remiss not to mention what's going on this week online.

We weren't going to Extra Life United in Florida this year. Then the pandemic happened, and it's... NOT CANCELLED. In fact, it's morphed into an online-only experience, free to sign up, with the original US$150,000 still able to be won for hospitals across North America. So even though I'll have to do it around my work schedule, I've signed up to play.

If you want or have the means, you can sponsor me in my efforts to win a few bucks for the Alberta Children's Hospital. This is separate from the link I give the rest of the year for my main Extra Life page: it's a special Extra Life United page.

Now, more than ever, we need the have's of the world to support the have-not's. Let's become a better community.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

As old as he'll ever be


Today, our daughter hits a special milestone.

Today, she turns two years and 326 days.

That's how old Dominic was when he took his last breath.

When he died, he'd never said more than a couple words, "mom" being his favourite. A stroke took his speech and much of his mobility soon after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

He was also gentle, full of love and never seemed to complain no matter what awful things were happening to him. His thumbs-up became the signature for our #Dominicstrong fundraising for a reason.

By contrast, Samantha sings and dances, tells us she loves us and also throws epic temper tantrums when told she can't have what she wants.

She sees photos of him and we tell her that's her brother, but she's far more excited about going to hang out with the girl who's near her age at her day home. That's someone tangible. She'll never hug her brother or sit with him on Santa's lap or have a snowball fight with him.

And while he's stuck at two, she'll turn three next month and continue reaching milestones that never seemed possible for him.

He had a growth chart with only a few records marked on it. Samantha was given a similar one but I decided to mark her height on his chart instead, so that she'd always see his name there too and maybe start asking about it.

We hung it on the back of her door, but she's pulled it down so many times it was sitting crumpled in a spare room - a room that would've been his by now.

Yesterday I fixed it back on her door, had her stand beside it and we took a couple photos. Unsurprisingly she's far ahead of him at this age - cancer and chemotherapy do a number on kids' growth.

We're proud of her, but it feels like he's getting further and further away. The memory of him is frozen, and every winter a new layer of ice gets added around him. It's just a little bit harder to remember his face, or what his laugh sounded like, or how he walked with that awkward gait - another side effect of the stroke.

Today she's an age he was for the last time. Now he's the baby brother, not the older one.

She'll be a great big sister. She'll learn his story, and we'll continue to raise money in his memory. But what will that look like? There is so much uncertainty in our lives right now, we're not honestly sure.

I know this blog has been almost non-existent in the past year. Aside from our charity events, there's not much to say. Thanks to those of you who continue to follow his story and support us.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Hey there (game day is upon us)

Hey there!

We've pledged to play games to help heal kids through Extra Life, and are embarking on a 25-hour gaming marathon starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow (Nov. 2)!
Every penny raised through our Extra Life pages goes to the Alberta Children's Hospital, where Dominic spent most of his two years.
You're getting this message because you've followed Dominic's story. Maybe it was when he was still in the hospital. Maybe it was in the days after he died in 2015. Or maybe you're seeing this blog for the first time. Either way, thank you so much for your support. It means a lot.
We set our goals lower this year because we simply don't have the same time or energy to devote to charity work as we once did. There are a number of factors but our two-year-old daughter is absolutely priority No. 1. We look at fundraising as our way of parenting Dominic, even though he's no longer physically here.
That said, over the years Sean's Extra Life page alone has raised more than US$90,000. And the #Dominicstrong team there is up over US$125,000. We've done three Superhero Night games with the Medicine Hat Mavericks, five mini-golf tournaments with Hooplas, and this year's online auction through our Facebook page made another $9,400.

Incentives

New to Extra Life this year is an incentives counter. What I (Sean) won't do for a donation...
  • $10: Wear a panda onesie for one hour of the marathon.
  • $50: Play a game of your choice for one hour.
  • $1,337: Shave off my goatee.
  • ??: You come up with something and I'll consider it. So long as it's reasonable, I'm up for just about anything. How about Trish's nails (see the top of this post), eh?

Milestones

Sean is currently at US$11,489 raised this year. But let's go further.
  • US$11,500: Eat a piece of chicken covered in a hot sauce that's 25 times hotter than a jalepeno.
  • US$12,000: Eat another piece of chicken but with The Last Dab, a hot sauce that's 400 times hotter than a jalepeno.
All donations are collected securely by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and are tax deductible. Thank you!

Friday, 27 September 2019

Auction No. 5


When our friend Kristine first started an online auction four years ago to help with our Extra Life efforts, we were honoured, and humbled. What a wonderful idea - totally online bidding, no need for pants, every penny raised to the hospital.

It finished off that year with $7,900 raised, and pushed our Extra Life total past US$46,000 for the year, all in Dominic's name. Kristine, her whole family and Trish all shaved their heads. I, having no hair left, waxed my back. Good times!

And then the question became - how do we follow that up?

The answer, of course, is that you can't. The bulk of that year's fundraising happened in the wake of our son's death. But what you can do is continue on with things like the auction, like the 25-hour gaming marathon, and still have incredible impact.

And yet, somehow, the auction itself actually got bigger.

In 2016 it raised $10,000. The number grew to $10,921 in 2017. With a new daughter to care for and far less free time, we still managed $9,877 in bids last year, even though the amount of traffic on the auction went down significantly.

This year we sort of admitted defeat in that we don't have the resources between the two of us to do our day jobs, raise a now-2-year-old, and solicit dozens of new businesses (in addition to the ones who we automatically contact as repeat donors). We knew the auction would be smaller and it is, with 116 items to last year's 132, and a total value of the minimum bids at $4,740 compared to $6,705 in 2018. We definitely don't have time to organize a public game day, though we'll do our own in private again Nov. 2-3.

But I will say, thanks to social media we are seeing more traffic and interest on the auction items ahead of today's (Friday, Sept. 27) auction starting at 5 p.m. Mountain time. So that is really encouraging. If we can double every minimum bid, $10,000 is still a goal worth shooting for!

There are some amazing items again. From the two sets of crokinole discs we originally had made for Extra Life United, to tickets from the Esplanade to each of their three Classic Albums Live concerts, to beautiful handmade items, gift cards to stores big and small, and of course some special word art mugs, the variety is kind of mind-blowing.

It's all thanks to our community, both here and abroad. I know a few folks from the U.S. who we met because of Extra Life will be bidding, and our donations include items from Calgary as always.

What really surprises us are the new donations from people who we never reached out to and never heard from before. The fact Dominic's story has inspired them to give means so much. One woman who wants to remain anonymous hand-made a dozen outfits for a doll she had, which literally took months, and has now donated the lot of it including the doll. When I told a gaming company we weren't sure if having the same game in the auction year after year was a good idea, they donated two other games instead. And when one friend's company declined to donate anything, she went and bought things from her own store and donated anyhow.

Stories like these remind us how good people are. And the number of families we know who've needed to use the Alberta Children's Hospital past or present only gets bigger. We want to help the hospital continue to give them the best care possible, just as they did when we needed it.

Go check out the auction now. It runs until 5 p.m. Sunday. You've got to be a member of the Facebook group in order to bid, and make sure to read the auction rules in full before you participate! It should be a great weekend.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Mini golf, major impact


I've been to enough charity golf tournaments to know that it's all about getting lots of companies together to raise big money.
But we've found you can do great things with smaller numbers too. And the impact can be just as worthy.
When our friend Amber Dewar approached us after Dominic's death wanting to do a fundraiser through Hooplas Family Entertainment Centre - which her family owns - we were honoured. But I'm not sure we thought it would be bigger the fifth time out than that first, incredibly emotional September day.
But there we were Sunday as four- or even five-person teams filled all 18 holes in Dom's memory, raising money for the Alberta Children's Hospital via Extra Life.
Extra Life, of course, is a gaming charity. Most people associate it with video or board games, but mini golf is a game too, gosh darnit! And a fun one that pretty much anybody can play.
In its original incarnation the day at Hooplas was just that - a day during which a portion of every green fee went to the cause. A couple years ago that changed to a tournament, with prizes for best team score and everything.
As an outdoor course, the weather has had a big impact on the event. Poor weather for a couple years kept folks from coming out, and we even moved the date to be earlier last year in hopes we'd get more people.
Well, it was 32 degrees Celsius out there Sunday, and the numbers show it.
We are proud to announce that this year's #Dominicstrong Charity Mini Golf Tournament raised $1,653! With Schwab and Co. Chartered Accountants sponsoring and Skinny's Smoke House BBQ providing dinner for all 75 of us, it was a massive success.
From all the folks proudly wearing their #Dominicstrong shirts to the team that made their own special Golf for the Gold shirts, it was a good-looking group. We had special holes forcing some to use marshmallows for a hole, or playing while blindfolded, and while I can't speak for everyone, I sure had a lot of fun! Even if Trish beat me.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Four years


The memories aren't the same, but the pain certainly is.

Four years ago today we watched as Dominic took his final breath. Trish held his hand to keep it from going cold. We made the worst phone calls imaginable to family and friends, crying along with them.

I vaguely remember driving the rental van to a random hotel we were to stay at until his ashes were ready to come home. Then spending the rest of the day lying on hotel beds, reading hundreds of messages and seeing thousands of dollars get donated through my Extra Life page as per our request on that day's blog.

All week we've been re-sharing the blog entries from that fateful wish trip. We read them ourselves at this time every year, and any time we think of him. I'm not usually a big fan of forcing it on anybody, but sometimes you need the support.

People do move on, but we now have two kids - one of them's just not here physically. Samantha's the age he was when he died, and has started to recognize him in photos. There's daddy, mommy... and Dominic. She doesn't know why Dominic is in those photos, but she does know he's important enough to be named.

He's still everywhere to us. We look out behind our house and there's his bench. Anytime someone gives a thumbs up, I think of him. A random photo of someone else's sick kid, with one of the animal stickers for their NG tube - Dominic had those. The Darth Vader pajamas of his now fit her, and she's started to treat his light sabre/baton as a weapon, rather than the vacuum she originally thought it was.

But the story I tell when asking for donations isn't as overwhelming, and certainly more succinct than it used to be. Now it's simply "we do this in memory of our son." You might get a "he died during his wish trip" if I'm being particularly verbose.

And you know, the people who donated before, they still donate. Because it is a good cause. Because they're good people. And because maybe, just maybe, they remember him too. Selfishly, I sometimes think remembering him means more than the donations themselves.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It's the most important month of our year - the #Dominicstrong mini-golf tournament is Sept. 15 at Hooplas (register now at hooplas.ca) and the online auction through our Facebook group is Sept. 27-29.

Thank you for paying attention and giving Dominic a bit of your time.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Another heroic night


Once again, Superhero Night was a blast.

As always, the star of the game threw the first pitch. Then the Medicine Hat Mavericks grabbed an early lead wearing their Captain America-inspired jerseys, eventually earning a 15-5 win over what we dubbed as Team Hydra, the Moose Jaw Miller Express.

This year's first pitch was thrown by someone Dominic knew. We met Cahleb and his mom Laura because he and Dom were a perfect match for a play date. While Dom had a stroke in addition to his cancer that affected his mobility, Cahleb was born blind, plus he's got a rare condition called congenital pan-hypopituitarism that's life-threatening and requires regular medication and therapy.

Now five years old, Cahleb has a younger brother Dhylan and the two of them are an absolute blast. Cahleb doesn't go to the Alberta Children's Hospital a lot, but their role in his care is important anyhow. As Laura tells it, they've helped teach the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital how to deal with his condition and how best to treat him.

As soon as they got to the ball park, Cahleb got to meet members of the 501st Legion (charity volunteers who cosplay as stormtroopers and other villains of the Star Wars universe). These three have been at all three Superhero Night events and were amazing as always, even saving our #Dominicstrong booth with oodles of duct tape!

They knew what to do, bending down so Cahleb could touch their armour and helmets (because that's how he sees). Then it was time to go throw the first pitch, which was amazing to watch. The crowd really delivered with applause when told he'd only know they were there if he could hear them.

The players stepped up too, embracing their roles as superheroes by adding masks prior to the game starting. I'd like to note the Mavericks have never so much as trailed on the scoreboard during any of the three Superhero Night games, and they've won all of them.

As for the rest of the night, thanks to our friends Chris, Starr, James, Krista and Brandon and our family who were visiting from Ontario, we were able to see more of the game than ever before! But I will say, it wasn't a good night to be sitting still - thunderstorms were in the area, a cold wind was blowing and attendance was not what it usually is. I don't blame people for staying away - it wasn't a nice night to be outdoors. We've been lucky the past two years with lots of sun.

Team staff did a great job, bringing in Under the Stars performers dressed as Batman, Joker and the Incredibles. We were honoured to receive a cheque for $1,500 on behalf of the Alberta Children's Hospital, plus a bit more cash donated at our table.

A reminder that if you're interested in buying one of the game-worn jerseys, just call the Mavericks at 403-580-5811. They cost CDN$105 including tax.

The next month will continue to be busy for us as we get going with the online auction, which will be at the end of September as always. If you or your business are interested in donating something for it, just reach out to either Trish or I! We have a special email for #Dominicstrong, it's donations@dominicstrong.com.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Superhero Night III

For the third year in a row the Medicine Hat Mavericks baseball team is helping the Alberta Children’s Hospital and promoting our charity efforts by holding Superhero Night next Saturday, July 20.

We are honoured to be able to reveal this year’s special jerseys! After going with a comic book theme last year, this time it’s back to dressing the guys up as if they are the superheroes - which to many kids in the community, they certainly are.

In 2017 the jerseys featured a generic cape on the back. This time, you’ll recognize them as super-soldiers... the design is an homage to Captain America, with a star on the front and stripes. I love the fact they’ve kept the Mavs colours however, lots of red, grey and back.

Want one? They’ll be on sale after the third inning July 20, though you can certainly call the Mavs early (403-580-5811) to reserve one.

I won’t have as much to do with the game this year, as Mavs promotions director Janessa Robinson has stepped up in a big way with exciting ideas. There will be even more characters roaming Athletic Park this year, and fans are encouraged to dress up as superheroes themselves.

Game time July 20 is 7:05 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Monday, 17 June 2019

Unboxing


Father's Day has come and gone for another year, and I'm feeling a little melancholy.

It's not because the card I got was from one child who's here and one who's not, though that's not far off.

No, it's more for what we did do this weekend than what we didn't.

When Dominic died, one of the first things we did was go through the scads of toys he had, pick which ones to keep and what to give away to charities.

We probably gave away $1,000 worth of stuff that Christmas, and the funny thing is I've seen some of it as we've gone to various places with Samantha. She spent time as a toddler on a play mat we gave away to a local parent centre, while I've seen other things around and noticed the room immediately seemed dusty.

His old medical supplies got packed up and what hadn't been used yet got redistributed through a parents group. Whenever I see a kid with a tube stuck to their face with a lion or a duck, I think of Dominic.

But his clothes? They got boxed up and loaded into a spare room in our house. There were probably 20 boxes, stacked nearly to the ceiling, in that little room: we never had the time or energy to go through it.

We finally did it Saturday. And yeah, most of it was destined for the second-hand store. But there were a few things we kept.

The first pair of pyjamas he wore after being admitted, with fire engines on them. Some superhero clothes that will look great on Samantha when we do the Mavericks' Superhero Night July 20. Some shoes and a couple hats. A wonderful crocheted version of Dominic, complete with an AFO on his leg, tubes in his chest and in his nose. What a wonderful tool to teach her about her brother.

Some items brought back memories. The furry brown snowsuit Trish put him in when she had to take him to get radiation on his brain at the Foothills Hospital. The radiation mask itself. The hat he wore when he matched my dad in a 'yep, they're related' photo we took. So many pyjamas because Dom basically lived in a hospital bed for most of his two years on this Earth.

And then we hauled them to the car, drove them to second-hand stores and they were gone.

This came on the same weekend we took the crib-side off Samantha's bed - something we'd never done for Dominic of course. It's about to be potty training time and that means she needs to be able to get out of bed in the middle of the night: She never has climbed out of the crib, though we are certain she could've if she wanted to.

With a cancer-free two-year-old in the house, we are basically living the life we should've when Dom turned that age. It's all new territory, from talking to worrying about what she is and isn't eating, what she can and can't get in to, marking off taller heights on the same chart we used for our son.

As we do, we get further and further from the life we did have with him. It's OK; we love our daughter as strongly as we ever loved our son, and his memory is always there with us moving forward. But the boxes are gone, soon to find new homes. It was an odd combination of freedom and sadness to see them go.