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Westlock brain cancer warrior battles to make a difference

Cecily Eklund nears $20,000 goal for Sept. 10 fundraiser
WES - Kids With Cancer Fundraiser 3
Nine-year old Cecily Eklund looks at her parents in amazement after she is presented with a Golden Retriever puppy Aug. 6, after speaking at the annual Hallywood Jamboree. The family has chosen the name ‘Mille’ for their new addition. Kristine Jean/WN

WESTLOCK — Cecily Eklund is fighting a winning battle with brain cancer.  

The nine-year-old Westlock girl has raised more than $50,000 in donations and material items for the Kids with Cancer Society, since being diagnosed with a brain tumour two years ago in 2019.

For the past year and a half she has been fundraising not-for-profit organization in Edmonton that has helped her and her family, as well as many others fighting the same battle. Earlier this year she raised $15,000 for her ninth birthday in March and donated it to the society in May and to date she has raised $25,000 this year alone.

“It makes me feel really good,” said Cecily of the funds she’s raised and donated to the society so far.   

She now has her sights set on another goal of raising an additional $20,000 by early next month when she and her family will take part in a Kids With Cancer Society fundraiser called a ‘Family Fundo.' Cecily will complete a 22-kilometre bike ride Sept. 10, through the Edmonton River Valley.   

“It was one of the events that the whole family could participate in, so she has a whole team riding with her,” said Cecily’s mom, Cathy.         

Since her diagnosis, Cecily has received much support from friends, family and the local community, including a group that she belongs to called the Girls with Brain Tumour’s Club.

“She gets to meet once a month with other girls the same as her, so they all have the same experiences,” said Cathy. “They can talk about it, there’s a counsellor there and they do fun things like crafts.”       

In 2020 Cecily underwent surgery to remove the brain tumours and she’s been monitored frequently since then. “Right now, we’re two years with no new tumour growth so that’s really good news,” said Cathy, noting that Cecily is in survivorship having celebrated two years cancer free in May. 

“She’s got friends who are still battling right now so it’s really nice to see these children that we’ve met through the community be helped just as much,” explained Cathy noting the support children with cancer receive throughout survivorship.    

Westlock and outlying communities, including Jarvie have shown tremendous support for Cecily and the Kids With Cancer Society. The annual Hallywood Jamboree has been raising money for the society for several years said co-organizer Dave Hall, who invited Cecily and her family to speak and share her story during this year’s event at Hallywood RV Park Aug. 6

“We’ve been supporting (Kids With Cancer Society) for eight years now,” said Hall, noting all money raised from a raffle draw and live auction items at the festival will go towards the not-for-organization. “We’ve raised over $40,000 for them now.”

During the family’s time on stage a local man, Donnie Kravontka, who is originally from Jarvie but now lives in Grassland, was so touched by Cecily’s story and her courage that he wanted to do something special for the Westlock girl. Kravontka was selling puppies during the Town Wide Garage Sale in Westlock Aug. 6, when he met the family.

“They came to my booth in Westlock and they told me their story. It warmed my heart,” Kravontka told the crowd, after joining the family on stage. “So we’d like to present this little girl with a puppy.

“My dad’s fighting for his life (in hospital) with cancer, it touches everybody’s heart. You change somebody’s life and that’s what it’s about,” he said of giving the family a puppy.

The Eklund’s are grateful for the love and support they’ve been shown over the past few years, from people they know and even strangers, who have all rallied behind Cecily.    

“Having a small community come around and help families at their darkest times is just absolutely incredible,” said Cathy. “Seeing this is very heartwarming — something so small like some music, some tents and some campers can make such a difference in the lives of these kids who are fighting.”

To support Cecily’s September fundraiser or to make a financial donation, visit Kids with Cancer Society online or directly donated to Cecily’s fundraising page at https://kwc.akaraisin.com/ui/familyfundo2022/p/teamcecily.

Kristine Jean, TownandCountryToday.com





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