Friday 3 November 2023

Back to basics: Game Day 11


Looking back on our first ever Extra Life event in 2013, a couple of things stick out.

First, my goatee was a different colour. Feels like it's been white forever! But they say trauma can turn your hair white prematurely. I think it's a safe bet that's what happened.

Second, it is absolutely incredible that most of the people involved in that first 25-hour marathon will again be with us this Saturday at 8 a.m. when we do it for the 11th time. Chris didn't even create a fundraising page for himself until 2021, and I remember him passing out with a controller in his hand at 7 a.m. that first time. No, it's not the same as running a marathon (Chris, Jordan and Nicole have done a half-marathon), but it's still a unique challenge.

Third, and perhaps most important, there will be no evening Facetime with Dominic. We'll have to watch some of his videos instead. It's all we've got.

We got in to this because we wanted to give back to the place that did so much for him. And even though we are more and more disconnected from that place as time goes on, we hear so many stories of other kids in our community who need it. We want to remain connected, both to Dom, and the hospital, and this is one of the best things we've got.

Our team has raised more than $15,000 this year, which is both a good chunk of change and not even a blip on the Alberta Children's Hospital radar. There are bigwigs who drop that amount in an evening at one of their big galas. We can't compete. And we don't need to. Because every dollar does SOMETHING. It might be an extra couple animal-themed stickers to hold down a feeding tube instead of the basic ones, lessening the chance of a kid pulling it out and causing all sorts of problems. Or it might be a candy to give that kid's sibling who feels like they're not important because the other one's getting all the attention.

They aren't buying new MRI machines with our fundraising, but it is important. It was the little things that our hospital did that made life there more palatable, and it's little things that add up to big things - like us wanting to give back in Dominic's memory.

So bring on the games. Our group is now largely focused on board games, but there will still be MarioKart and Rocket League and Call of Duty played. We'll take a break to head over to SixOneSix for axe throwing, break out the cellphones for some Pokemon Go, and take part in some NSFW JackBox Games during the overnight hours.

I've got two shipments I'm tracking ahead of game day: One is The Last Dab: Xperience hot sauce, made with the new world record-holding Pepper X. The other is Black Death Mega Sours, which touts itself as the world's most sour candy. If we reach our team's US$15,000 (CDN$20,800) goal, a bunch of us are going to try both, but we're doing the sours if we his US$14,000.

In addition, we are rolling out the 20-sided dice again! If you make a donation of $10 or more during game day to any of the team members on the dice roll sheet, we'll get rolling and doing some crazy stuff.

James says he'll get an Extra Life-themed tattoo if he breaks $2,000, we want to earn Krista and Chris some rewards by hitting the $200 and $500 levels, and we'll break the US$240,000 lifetime mark as a team with another $2,000. That's more than CDN$330,000 - we raised US$226,918.75 if you add up all the past events' official totals prior to this year (yes, this is me putting that number in the blog to spare future calculating).

Stay tuned for Saturday! It's going to be a great time, as always.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Auction totals and the plan for Game Day

 


Once again, our community came through.

This past weekend's ninth annual #Dominicstrong online auction raised a whopping $9,639, which I should note is $350 more than we announced during a live video reveal Monday night.

Why the discrepancy? Turns out I had a mistake on my auction spreadsheet, not counting the last four items until one of them gave a few dollars more than they'd bid, prompting me to notice that the official total didn't change when I entered it.

Yes, I've gone back and checked that this has never happened on any of the other auctions we've run.

The total of the 108 items (actually 119 - 11 items had duplicates which were won by second-place bids) was $8,639. The other $1,000 came from an item that was intended to be in the auction, but sold privately hours before I was about to post it. Ray, who had wanted it in the auction, donated the proceeds so we're counting it in the total. What an incredible gesture!

Aside from my spreadsheet snafu, this year's auction was smooth like butter. It's only Wednesday but the auction room is mostly empty. Everyone's come to pick up their winnings! We started a week later than usual but the total came in higher than 2022. Huge thumbs-up to everyone who played a part - whether you just shared the auction, donated, bid, helped behind the scenes, anything. Thank you.

Now to what's next: Last year we ran a public 24-hour charity game day for the first time in years. We had a sponsor. Lined up a whole separate mini-auction. Set up gaming stations and challenges and just a ton of effort from our group to make it happen. Got great publicity. And we didn't raise much different that day than any of our non-public game days. It was fun, but every game day is fun. I can't justify all the extra effort.

So, this year we're not going to do a public game day. Friends and family only. We'll live-stream (Nov. 4-5) as much of it as we can, and I'll blog and do social media about it, but really we'd like to see folks inspired to do their own Extra Life events.

Our hero is Dominic. You probably have your own reason to give back to a children's hospital. Go tell the world about it. Go do something good; we're right alongside you. Sign up at www.extra-life.org - make a team if there's a group of you doing it together! And if Dominic really is your reason for doing it, contact me and I'd be happy to have you on our team.

Friday 29 September 2023

Auction 2023: Generosity, love, and a bit of retail therapy

Welcome to the ninth annual #Dominicstrong online auction in support of the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Every year I get stressed about whether we'll have enough items, and every year donors come through.

Every year I worry we won't have enough people to bid on the items. I'm doing it now. And every year, they do. I really should worry less.

This year's auction started off with a bang. I got a call from a fellow I'd known when he wrote a bowling column for the paper. His son, an adult with autism, had grown disinterested in a bike built for two they'd bought, and they wanted to donate it.

Well, it wasn't just any bike built for two. It was a quadricycle that looks more like a golf cart and goes for $3,000 new.

You won't see that item in the auction, as he sold it last week and intends on donating the proceeds.

What you will see is 108 items - a handful of them double items where the top two bidders will win - ranging from handmade cards to a month-long hot tub rental.

Every donation, whether it's in the auction or not, no matter how big or small, helps.

Even though the hospital's operating budget is more than $40 million, I like to think what we're doing matters somehow.

At the very least, it matters because Dominic mattered. And we don't just do it for him. I visited a restaurant in Airdrie this week with a donation box out for a girl with cancer. She's being treated at the same hospital that Dominic was at. I think of the kids we met at Superhero Night this year being treated there. I see a plane take off from the Medicine Hat airport and think of when we flew in one to get to the children's hospital.

We may be a drop in the bucket but over the years we've raised more than $300,000. That's more than a drop. And it happens one bid increase at a time.

So please, take advantage of the great deals to be had this weekend, for sure. But if it's a $50 gift certificate for a place you'd shop at anyhow, consider adding another $5 to your bid because it's a good cause. And know that every person who donated, created, or gave something up did it because they cared.

Thank you, all of you. You make this thing work. You're what keeps us coming back to spend dozens of hours every year putting it together and running it.

The specifics

To be safe, I'm going to post the auction rules here. For those new to the auction, it's run off our Facebook page, #Dominicstrong. On the group you'll see the featured posts, including the long one with the rules and a link to the auction album itself.

Every picture in the album is an item. You bid in the comments! Remember, bidding starts at 5 p.m. Mountain time Friday (Sept. 29) and ends at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1. Any time stamp with 1700 Oct. 1 on it or later is ineligible.

There are starting (minimum) bids for every item, and bids have to be at least $1 higher than the previous high bid.

Once it's all over, we go in, tell the winners they've got 24 hours to pay, then get to the process of delivery/pickup of auction winnings.

My parents are driving in from Calgary and can therefore bring winnings back to the big city for anyone who wants them to. Otherwise, you've got to arrange pickup/delivery with us, at your cost. I'll happily ship something to Turkey, but I ain't paying for it!

In the news

Two of our local media sources have done stories on the auction this year, and of course in Canada right now you can't post news links on Facebook. So here they are!

Children's hospital fundraiser honours memory of local boy (Medicine Hat News, Sept. 26)

Thumbs up: #dominicstrong auction this weekend (CHAT News Today, Sept. 29)

Wednesday 20 September 2023

A good reason to miss school


We took Samantha out of school for a couple hours today to do something important.

It was a chance to tell Dominic's story.

A couple weeks ago our friends at the Alberta Children's Hospital asked if we'd be able to represent them for a cheque presentation at the local Save-On Foods here in Medicine Hat.

We don't get asked to do much anymore with regards to him, so it was an obvious reply: yes!

We've done a few of these over the years. I remember one of the first ones was at Costco. And in every case, it's supporting various initiatives which wind up raising money for the hospital.

Usually that's an ask at the till. "Would you like to donate a dollar?" Sometimes the employees stop asking after a while because of how many people say no. And I get it; you don't want to be bombarded with more requests for money with the way inflation is these days.

But there's a reason they ask. And hearing stories like Dominic's hopefully makes them more empowered to ask, and maybe that sense of community grows a little stronger because of it.

The folks at Save-On Foods have continued to ask, and the Medicine Hat store raised the most for Alberta Children's than any other Save-On in the province. A total of $122,737.53 was raised - way more than we'll raise in our little auction next weekend.

It's important to remember that every cent does count. So we hope you'll share and participate in our auction which begins Sept. 29 on our Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/dominicstrong.

If you don't want to do the auction but still want to donate, you can get a tax receipt when you donate through Extra Life - www.extra-life.org/participant/sean (or /trish, or any of our teammates' pages at www.extra-life.org/team/dominicstrong).

It was good to tell his story but it's never easy. I broke down, and Trish finished talking for me. Sam played shy for a bit but had her smile nice and big for the photo.

It was important we were all there together.


Sunday 3 September 2023

Missing you

 

The anniversary of Dominic's death is always bound to hit hard.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Kids are going back to school. All these reminders that he's not here for it.

Trish and I handle Sept. 3 differently. She's strong all year and allows herself to fall apart today. Doesn't eat much, barely gets out of bed, turns her phone off. If it's a weekday, it's a mental health day. This year it's on the weekend so there's not much impact.

Me? I have moments here and there. Maybe it's a song, maybe it's the reminder in the calendar, or just looking out at his bench and seeing kids at the playground. I feel like today I need to step up, make sure she does eat (even if it's greasy poutine), keep the kid and dogs are taken care of, and that the house doesn't burn down.

Together, there's one thing we always do: Put some balloons out at his bench. An orange one symbolic of leukemia, a gold one for childhood cancer. Sometimes a family photo; this year, just the bench.

Samantha was away at the grandparents' house and I picked her up. She had a few rocks she wanted to decorate so I suggested she do something for her brother.

On one rock, the word miss. On another, a heart. And on a third, brother. We left them at the bench with the balloons.

Pretty good for a kid who never got to meet him. She probably still weirds people out by talking so openly about her dead sibling, but we're proud of her for it. It's an honest relationship with death.

Tomorrow we'll be back to auction mode, hoping the people we've contacted respond to us. As we always say, this is part of parenting a child who isn't here anymore.

It's how we cope.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Auction 2023: Better late than never?


It's that time of year again! Time to ask dozens upon dozens of individuals and businesses whether they'd like to support the Alberta Children's Hospital through the annual #Dominicstrong online auction.

This year's auction will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29 and end at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1.

As always, it'll be run through our Facebook page. Same system as always. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! We raised $9,407 last year so it's hard to complain about.

So far we have... OK honestly I know we've got a few things, but it's been a crazy summer and we are way, way behind on this.

If you donated last year, we will be in touch! Would you like to help? We would LOVE to have some extra hands on deck. Even if you just mentioned it to someone who might be able to donate an item, or maybe printed off the letter (which you can download here) and shared it, every little bit helps.

Sunday 25 June 2023

Hats off to all the superheroes




We do our charity work in Dominic's memory, but events like Superhero Night are a good reminder that we do it for all the kids who get help from the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Although we're no longer in the loop when it comes to being hospital parents and knowing lots of kids there, we know there are plenty from southern Alberta who travel to Calgary for specialized care.

Meet Reid (wearing the Red Sox hat in the photo above). He's a Little League player and was recently diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Even though he just finished his first round of chemotherapy, he was able to come home and be a guest of honour Saturday.

The young man beside Reid is Aiden, who's undergone numerous surgeries at the children's hospital including tumours, genetic disorders, and following a nasty accident involving boiling water that had him airlifted to Calgary. He, too, was a guest of honour and they both threw out first pitches.

Truth is, we could get a hundred kids to throw out first pitches any given year. Katelyn, the pageant winner in the photo, threw one in 2022 even though we'd never met her before that night. Turns out she goes to the hospital regularly too! And now she's a big part of our team, helping at all of our events. Incredible.

The Star Wars characters? They've been coming to the game pretty much since it started seven years ago. They're part of a group called The 501st Legion - Vader's Fist. It's an international charity organization featuring dark side characters. Usually seen at comic-cons, a baseball game is quite the departure - and can get pretty hot in all that armour! We love their dedication.

A local group known as Under the Stars came dressed as superheroes too, and the Mavericks sold out of the special edition #Dominicstrong hats (we bought 32 of them, after asking on our Facebook group if anybody wanted us to pick up a hat in their absence). Between those sales and the $100 in cash donations made to our table, we expect to have raised about $800 this year.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped. From the Mavericks and their staff (great job by P.A. announcer Guy with song selections and keeping the theme in mind all night), to our friends Bob and Krista manning our table, and all the friends we don't see often enough coming to watch the game and show support, it was a fantastic evening.

Only way it could've been better is if the home team won, but I was reminded that wins and losses are not the only metric of success.

Our daughter Samantha retrieved a foul ball during the game and it subsequently became her favourite thing in the entire world. She drew on it, named it ("Bally"), and was utterly thrilled to have two Mavericks players sign it. Full credit to the players, after a tough loss your mind isn't usually on serving the fans. But these guys didn't even pause and made my girl's night.

The other great memory I'll take is a 12-year-old who, upon hearing my usual spiel about what Extra Life is, was completely gung-ho about signing up and participating! We had a fantastic conversation and I really hope to see her and her friends involved sometime down the line. If she sees this, www.extra-life.org is the website and their Discord link is on the home page!

Next up for us? The online auction (dates TBA), then game day in November. As always you can make a donation and get a tax receipt by going to www.extra-life.org/team/dominicstrong.

Thanks, everyone, for the continued support.


Friday 16 June 2023

Superhero Night June 24

 



Here we are, halfway through the year, and a week away from Superhero Night with the Medicine Hat Mavericks, and this is the first you're hearing from us.

Better late than never?

We haven't had much to say, since we didn't participate in Extra Life United (no online tournament, during tax season so we couldn't go to Orlando) and haven't done much else in the way of charity work.

That's changing, starting with Superhero Night on Saturday, June 24.

The Mavs sold jerseys the first few years, but last year went to socks which we sold them out of and made a few hundred dollars on for the Alberta Children's Hospital.

This time around, they've got hats featuring the thumbs-up logo. They're reminiscent of the 2018 jerseys with a comic book esthetic - very cool! We can't thank Greg and the entire Mavericks team enough for supporting us and the hospital.

At the time of writing we don't know the price, but if you want one and can't get out to the game, please do get in touch with one of us. We wound up buying dozens of pairs of socks last year and are happy to do the same this time around. We'll be in Calgary AND Ontario in July to deliver to those areas.

This year is the 10th anniversary of Dominic being diagnosed with leukemia. We're still planning to do an online auction (dates TBA), and the 25-hour Extra Life marathon in November. Stay in touch by following the #Dominicstrong Facebook page and of course this blog, where we're continue to post updates.

There continue to be many kids in Medicine Hat and area who rely heavily on the hospital. We know of a recent cancer diagnosis for a local Little League player, and sadly heard news last week about a young man who died after a battle with leukemia.

Hope to see you next Saturday!

Monday 7 November 2022

'Twas the night after game day


'Twas the night after game day and all through the land,

Our dozen or so gamers did lift up their hands,

And extended a thumb for it's true you should know,

Our community rose up and gave the kids quite a show.


Some wore makeup or a mask of a velociraptor,

Others sucked on spicy candy and definitely swore,

It was all for the cause of the Alberta Children's Hospital,

Every dollar raised was influential.


The total, you ask? Well, when we started Saturday,

It read just a bit more than $14,000 and change,

Today now it says we're $18,240,

But keep in mind that's United States currency.


We got there with amounts both big and also small,

But there are a couple things which impressed most of all,

Like the one family whose kids had their birthday,

But instead of gifts asked for a donation to our party,

Or the 15-year-old Katelyn whose donation amount,

Was in how she spoke of her personal health account,

So brave and so heartfelt; she wants you to know,

That this hospital helps keep her symptoms controlled.


We'd like to thank all who played any part,

Of our game day at the Lodge, and let us just start,

With our two main sponsors: Schwab and Co. accountants,

And City Auto Parts, who opened up their wallets.


Next a huge shout-out to the 501st Legion,

That's the Star Wars characters who drove from different regions,

The snow did not stop them travel their path,

To Medicine Hat, though it did seem like Hoth.


Our friend Dan even made a surprise,

Coming with son Nick, and in the disguise,

Of Autobot leader Optimus Prime,

Complete by transforming and blowing our minds.


Our gamers had a blast, and we'd like to hope,

Those who came to play with us did too, and kindly they spoke,

We don't know if next year we'll do it the same,

But one thing we know is there will be another game.


By the way, one last thing I'd like to update,

Is you can still click here if you'd like to donate,

Our main efforts are done for 2022,

A difference you can make, Yoda notes it's quite true.



Thursday 3 November 2022

Daring game day No. 10

Well, it’s here! Our 10th annual Extra Life game day starts Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 a.m. in Ballroom D at Medicine Hat Lodge. Once again we’re ready to play games for 25 hours straight in support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital.


To say it’s been a crazy ride leading up to this one would be an understatement. We hadn’t done a public game day since 2017, and needless to say a lot has changed in that time.


We have sponsors (Schwab and Co., City Auto Parts) who have allowed us to do a much better job getting things together. We’re in a proper location, with special guests (501st Legion, Miss Teen Personality Western Canada, members of Medicine Hat city council), prizes, and a dedicated group of friends helping it all come together.


When Dominic got sick we immediately wanted to give back to the hospital, and finding Extra Life was a game changer - literally. I wasn’t about to start running marathons, so a gaming marathon was much more doable. Then we added in fun things like head shaves, stunts, dares and more. It’s fun and it’s for a good cause.


What I didn’t expect was that others in the community would want to do it too. While many of them will host their own marathons this weekend, we know of many who either found about Extra Life from us or were inspired by Dominic’s story. We might not see them this weekend but their efforts are just as important. If you see someone you know supporting their local hospital, please consider donating!


Our game day will begin at 8 a.m. and the plan is to live-stream the whole thing (www.twitch.tv/gomerstraw). We’ll be playing video and board games and once again the dice roll challenge is back: If you donate at least $10 to any team member’s page (www.extra-life.org/team/Dominicstrong) we will roll two dice. One to decide who’s doing the challenge, and the other to pick what they’ll have to do.

Feel free to come down to the Lodge and play with us, or choose from the dozens of games on hand! We’ll also have a crokinole table, a foosball table, and some giant games to try.


From 3-7 p.m. you can take part in a MarioKart fastest lap competition, with $50 gift cards to be won in three age categories!


Also don’t miss out on the awesome silent auction prizes, ranging from hand-made cards to autographed pucks and hats from members of the Calgary Flames! We have some door prizes to hand out as well.


Our main event hour starts at 6 p.m. and aside from some speeches and a special video, a few of us are going to complete the Toe of Satan challenge, sucking on a candy that’s 1,800 times hotter than a jalapeƱo for five minutes. Want to sponsor me for every 30 seconds I last? Send me a message and let me know how much you’re in for.


It’s going to be a long, long 25 hours, but kids in hospital have it so much worse. One of the kids we know who threw out the first pitch at Superhero Night one year is hospitalized right now and we are thinking of him. He’d have loved to see the Stormtroopers from the 501st and probably dressed up alongside them, but instead he needs all of our support.


Thanks to all of the local media who have helped raise the profile of this event. Chris from CHAT News Today is one of our team members and wrote this story. David with Shaw TV did this fantastic video. Kendall from the Medicine Hat News wrote a story too! And we’ve had radio appearances on both Wild 94.5 and My96.



Hope to see lots of friendly faces this weekend! We made sure to get our flu and COVID booster shots just to be extra safe. Grandma is coming to help babysit (because our 5-year-old isn’t about to stay up all 25 hours… yet!).


Game on!

Monday 17 October 2022

Remembering our hero


Zoom wasn't a thing during Dominic's lifetime, but I like to think he'd be a hit on it now.

Muted? Thumbs-up. Pinned to everyone's screens? Bigger thumbs-up. Singing songs and interacting without the worry of being immuno-compromised around strangers? This works too.

Tomorrow night (Oct. 18) we'll be part of a special Zoom call, part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada's Light the Night remembrance ceremony. You're invited! Just use this link: https://zoom.us/j/98115756410.

It starts at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time and is designed to be an intimate gathering to honour those we've lost.

Dom isn't the only person featured. Really, everyone on the call has an opportunity to share why they participate in Light the Night, the LLSC's main event. The call is only about a half hour and is a precursor to the main Light the Night broadcast, happening this Saturday (Oct. 22) starting at 5 p.m. our time.

There's been a #Dominicstrong Light the Night team practically since he was diagnosed. It started with a couple friends, and now my family runs it. They're almost at their $6,000 goal for the year.

We definitely miss getting together at Prince's Island Park in Calgary but since COVID, they've gone virtual.

Full disclosure, my sister Erin works for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Not at all what she used to do for a living, but Dom changed her life in more ways than most. And waiting a couple years before making Dom a poster child again shows her professionalism - she's in that world to help others, not just remember her nephew. I'd say she does both really well, but I'm biased.

Thanks to this campaign I've had the chance to speak about him on a few Zoom calls recently. It's been a while since I did that sort of thing, and while it's tough sometimes, I really do enjoy doing it. Telling his story is a huge part of what we do now, and I see the hits on this blog basically down to zero and realize many folks have moved on from his story. I suppose they've moved on from blogs in general too but don't think that's the main cause.

Hopefully I'll still be able to do the odd engagement 20 years from now. And hopefully this blog remains accessible by anyone who's looking for it. I actually had a random cancer parent contact me this week after finding his story, and it took me back to when I was new to that dreaded circle and looking for answers. Community is absolutely part of how you deal with cancer, and while random internet posts won't help you with treatment concerns, it can make you feel less lonely.

So join in that Zoom call and be part of someone else's community too.

Extra Life update

Our gameday planning is in full stride and we're looking forward to the 25-hour Extra Life marathon! It starts at 8 a.m. Nov. 5 at the Medicine Hat Lodge and we're inviting the public to join in from 3-7 p.m. We'll have surprise guests, a dozen or so silent auction items and, of course, lots of games to play.

See the Facebook event or this poster for more details. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Ten

 


"There's something wrong," she said.

Well of course there is

"You're still alive," she said.

Oh, and do I deserve to be?

Is that the question?

And if so, if so who answers? Who answers?

- Alive, Pearl Jam (from the album Ten)


I wouldn't say I've ever been suicidal over Dominic's death, but would I trade places with him? Absolutely.

Today he'd be 10 years old.

Nobody deserves the fate he got.

We think of all the missed milestones. The birthday parties, the visits to family, playing with friends, going to school... all of it never to pass. Just fake memories built up in our minds to torture us when they see fit.

We're lucky that we now have a daughter to dispel a bit of that horror by having her dreams come to life. She gets to go to dance class, be invited to more parties than time allows, and start every day by crawling in to bed for some extra cuddles.

We heard of yet another family whose child was taken from them last week. If they read this, please know we feel your pain. Know that it never gets easier, but it does become less frequent. You're not less of a bereaved parent for noticing this - and you will. You are strong enough to deal with it, but that doesn't mean you have to be strong all the time.

Especially that first year, every milestone tends to send you into a tailspin. Heck, I'm at work today (Trish takes his birthday off every year and tends to turn her phone off too). For me it's not so much the milestones as the memories that get me. The wrong song at the wrong time on the radio? Yep. Can't predict it, can't see it coming.

Ten is supposed to be a big milestone. As all of Dominic's early friends turned 10 this year, it definitely built this one up a little more. And yeah, today hurts a little more. Trish went and put out balloons at his bench like we do every birthday, and this year it was a 1 and a 0.

We'll see tomorrow. We'll keep doing good things in his name.

If you'd like to give Dom a birthday present, consider a donation to Helping Families Handle Cancer, or a purchase from our online store (which closes at 5 p.m. today). There are other families who could use the support.

Monday 3 October 2022

An auction, a store, then another auction

 


Well there you have it: The 2022 #Dominicstrong online auction raised $9,407!

But that's far from the end of this year's fundraising story. Actually, I kind of want to get past it as soon as possible.

That's not to say the auction wasn't amazing. It was! In 48 hours we sold 115 items to dozens of people. They all paid before 10 a.m. the next morning and all but a few things were out the door a day later. It was the most efficient and least stressful auction we've ever run.

Some folks donated extra when they paid, bumping the totals. And we actually kept 13 donated items out of the online auction because we're doing a separate, in-person auction during our Nov. 5 Extra Life game day marathon at Medicine Hat Lodge.

And even that isn't the point I want to get to.

No, there was one... more... thing we worked on to announce at the end of this year's auction. It won't make nearly as much money as the auction, but it's been a long time coming.

For the first time in four years, we are selling #Dominicstrong items! Many friends have asked when we'd do this again, and our daughter has outgrown most of the apparel we bought for her when she was born, plus I've learned a lot in my brief new communications career including how to run these things.

As we've done before, proceeds from this sale will go to Helping Families Handle Cancer, the Calgary-based charity that does exactly what it says. When Dominic was in hospital they helped with parking passes, gas cards, and all kinds of non-monetary support. Carie, who started the organization, is a cancer survivor herself and puts everything she has into it.

Anyhow, there are toques, T-shirts, a tank top, and hoodies for sale now at https://dominicstrong2022.itemorder.com/.

There is a catch: Orders will be delivered to Source for Sports here in Medicine Hat, so if you don't live here, you'll need to be in touch with us to arrange delivery. Message us before placing your order unless you're going to pick it up yourself.

There is another catch: This is a limited-time store. It closes at 5 p.m. Oct. 12, which just so happens to be Dominic's birthday. He would be turning 10. So you need to place your order soon, or not at all. There is no extra stock being purchased.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the auction. Watch for more details about the 25-hour game day here soon. But don't waste time if you want any apparel! Who knows when we'll do this again.

Friday 23 September 2022

A decade of auctions


A lot has changed in the past 10 years. Heck, a lot has changed in the last two. But one thing remains the same in our world - helping raise funds for charity with Dominic as our leading man.

When Kristine Russell first set us up to do an online auction, we didn't know what to expect. Then the donations started pouring in. Everyone wanted to be a part of it.

I won't lie, it does not have the same oomph it once did. Dominic has, indeed, faded from many people's memories. New stories have taken his place. And that's OK. For us, of course, it simply means we have to work harder to make the auction work every year. We have to get out there and share his story, and ask new people to help out.

At times, we just don't have the energy. We've got a lot going on, with a kid in kindergarten, day jobs, friends, and all the rest. But we are still Dominic's parents and things like this are how we parent him now that he's gone. It means a lot that those who still participate want to help the Alberta Children's Hospital as much as we do.

This year's auction did get a bit of a boost. Our amazing friend Krista helped out behind the scenes, contacting new potential donors, and helping get things together. A lot of donors who were simply unable to give during the pandemic got back on the list. Others upped their donations.

And now the second stage of the auction begins. This week I'm writing item descriptions, finalizing donations, picking things up, taking photos and setting the stage for what we hope will be a successful fundraiser.

The biggest thing I need now is your help. Whether you've donated or not, whether you plan on bidding for items or not, I really need you to go on to the #Dominicstrong Facebook group, invite people to it, and when you see posts about the auction, share the heck out of them on every social media platform and email address you've got.

There is never a shortage of great items to bid on, but there does tend to be a shortage of people bidding for them. This is partly algorithm-based, but it's also an issue of not enough folks knowing about the auction. The more bidders, the more the auction raises! And every penny counts.

Don't worry, it's not as though you won't win the items you want. There are plenty to go around! And you'll see this year we have duplicates of some items, meaning each of the top two bidders will win!

It all gets started Friday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. Look on the group all week as I'll be posting items every day for previewing. And definitely set your clocks for 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, since the auction wraps up at 5 p.m. that day. Last-minute bidding can be intense.