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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Holy Name’s $1605 donation to Grow On campaign brings fundraising total over $400k



by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Through hosting a Loonie Licence Week – where students were able to bring in a dollar to participate in a special activity each day – Holy Name Catholic Elementary School was able to raise $1605 in support of Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation’s (WCCF) signature fundraiser, the “Grow On” campaign.

  Not only did they support WCCF’s goal of bringing a stem cell transplant program to Windsor Regional Hospital, the staff and students proudly used the Grow On initiative to support recently retired grade eight teacher, Steve Gregetz. He volunteered to be one of four Ambassadors for the program this year, as he battled cancer recently.

  Gregetz said the students did an incredible job raising the money for the WCCF. He was pleased to receive the donation with WCCF’s Manager of Fundraising, Brooke Spitse, during a school assembly last Friday afternoon. Being part of those exciting assemblies is the thing he misses most about being a teacher at Holy Name.

  When he heard his former school wanted to show support for him as an Ambassador for Grow On, Gregetz said he was simply blown away. “It’s amazing,” he said, adding he appreciates the efforts of the students and staff in raising those dollars. He noted the Social Justice group initiated the school-wide fundraiser.

  As a former Holy Name student herself, Spitse was also proud to see the students raise those funds.

  Originally, it was hoped this year’s Grow On campaign would raise $350,000 for WCCF, with a goal of helping to support bringing a stem cell transplant program to Windsor. However, the Holy Name donation bumped the fundraising total over the $400,000 mark.

  The Province does support the new program, but additional funds are needed to be raised to help purchase some of the equipment and other aspects required for program delivery.

  Spitse said it is hoped to have the stem cell transplant program at Windsor Regional Hospital operational in the coming months. Having this opportunity will allow those who have certain cancers, and can potentially benefit from this treatment, a chance to not only have it done locally, instead of having to travel to Hamilton, London, or Toronto, but stay close to home during the three to four weeks of recovery time needed.

  Last year, Spitse said 525 patients from the Windsor-Essex region needed stem cell treatment and had to seek it out-of-town.

  Information on the Windsor Cancer Center Foundation website notes a stem cell transplant is a procedure replacing damaged or diseased blood forming cells with healthy cells. A stem cell transplant program in Windsor would mean families would no longer have to travel to be by a patient’s side.

  As an Ambassador for Grow On, Gregetz said he enjoyed the opportunity to do something to give back, and turn around a negative experience of being diagnosed with cancer and make it positive.

  “I met so many good people during this journey,” he said, noting that it inspired him and gave him the confidence to raise awareness about the WCCF.

  When Gregetz first got the news he had cancer, he didn’t want to tell people. Once he was through with his treatments and he knew that things were looking good for him, the retired educator thought it would be important to tell others what he had gone through, so others would not feel like they couldn’t reach out to somebody if they needed to.

  During his treatment, Gregetz said the staff members at the Cancer Center were amazing. He thought the least he could do was give back in some way to help other people and show appreciation for everything they did for him.

  In addition to raising funds for a local stem cell transplant program, The Windsor Cancer Center foundation’s Grow On Windsor campaign is also raising funds for the ongoing patient programs, like RENEW and for other advanced technologies that support world class cancer care close to home.

  Those who like to donate can also do so at: windsorcancerfoundation.org/grow-on-windsor/

  Information from the Windsor Cancer Center Foundation notes that one in eight individuals will face cancer in their lifetime and that cancer patients in the area deserve world class care close to home.

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