Child’s Voice Foundation and Shield team up against cancer
GRAVENHURST - Wide-eyed and awed, there may be no bigger South Muskoka Shield fan than Bracebridge’s Jake Nelson.
The South Muskoka Shield are backing their number-one fan Jake Nelson and other youth who are living with cancer.
There may also be no bigger fan of Jake than the team.
On Oct. 19 the 11-year-old had the thrill of spending time with the team in the locker room, on the ice and as the special guest to drop the puck. He learned the ins-and-outs of pre-game rituals, how intense practice can be and was given his own jersey, signed by each player and the coaches.
He also gave a few lessons.
“The guys really loved Jake. I think they all had a great time laughing and getting to know each other,” said Shield head coach and general manager Dal Telford.
Jake was a bubbling cauldron of excitement, a thrill for his mother Ursula Kovacs to see, as the young man has spent most of his life battling cancer.
“A smile can get you through anything and they (the Shield) brought that to his face many times that night,” she said. “It was so heartwarming to see.”
Jake has Down syndrome, but his challenge has been leukemia for eight of his 11 years. Kovacs explained it was four days before Jake’s second birthday when he was diagnosed.
“He was crying a lot and didn’t have a lot of energy. We took him (to hospital) to have it checked out and found out he was full of it (leukemia),” she explained. Jake is currently in remission, she added, and has been in and out of remission three times in his life.
It has meant the boy has missed about two years of schooling and endured an intense treatment schedule back and forth between Bracebridge, Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Orillia.
“But still, with everything he’s been through he’s all smiles,” Kovacs said. “Jake’s doing great; he’s back in school and doing very well.”
“This little guy is a totally fighter against cancer and still makes everyone smile,” said Susan Reid, regional manager for A Child’s Voice Foundation, based in Bracebridge.
Through a strong partnership with the South Muskoka Shield, Reid and the Child’s Voice Foundation have organized a fundraising drive to help local young children like Jake.
The Shield will be selling tickets all regular season, up until the final home game Feb. 1, when prizes will be awarded. The big winner will receive a six-person soft hot tub donated by Hot Tub Warehouse, while local artist Barbara Morton has donated a large and bright stained glass piece depicting a Lake Muskoka scene.
Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and available at each home game, from Shield volunteers or by contacting Reid at 705-646-1629 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She added if anyone or any businesses wish to help sell tickets to also contact her.
During the games 50/50 tickets will also be sold with funds going to the cause.
All donations will be used to support the Child’s Voice Foundation’s Kids Life Line program, which helps pay for things such as medication, equipment, travel expenses, and the Angel Hair for Kids program, which helps supply wigs to youth with hair loss due to cancer treatment.
“This hockey team is just amazing for helping us do this,” Reid said. “I simply cannot say enough about the Shield, the players, volunteers and coaches for throwing their support behind us.”