NEW GLASGOW, N.S. - Every year just before Christmas, Drew Graham loads up a van full of toys and makes the highway run to Halifax.
He and his wife Kaitlin wanted to shine some light on a personal tragedy that took place more than eight years ago.
“Good begets good,” Drew says.
Their son Oliver Graham was just three years old when he passed away in June 2010, after a 20-month battle with cancer, leaving behind his parents and older brother Jax, now 13.
The Oliver Hudson Graham Memorial Cancer Sucks Cup got its start the following December, and since then, $80,750 in cash has been raised, turned into gift cards for groceries and fuel, all donated to the IWK oncology unit and Ronald McDonald House to help families who are going through situations similar to what the Grahams went through.
But the Cancer Sucks Cup is more than raising money, it’s also about community spirit.
“The least important thing – and I say this every year – is the money,” says Drew Graham.
That monetary total doesn’t include all the toys that have been donated over the years to the cause, which is now in its ninth year.
“That’s eight vanloads of toys,” says Drew.
The Cancer Sucks Cup will also have a free skate at the Pictou County Wellness Centre (Dec. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m.).
“We want families to come out – anybody can come out and take part,” Kaitlin Graham says. “We had about 300 people last year.”
Hockey teams from Michelin will play a game on Dec. 20 at Trenton rink (“those guys have been around from the start,” Drew says) and back for a second year is a tournament featuring players in – or barely out of – high school, which is organized by, among others, Isaac Koehoorn, Brennan Moss and Jacob Roper.
That will take place Dec. 23 at Trenton rink, with a few of the players having been coached by Drew Graham during their bantam hockey years.
“There’ll probably be 40, 45 of us,” says Koehoorn. “We ask them (to donate) $20, or whatever they can do.”