Emotional night at Bayside

Rotary-organized event produces heartwarming stories and thousands of dollars for cancer research as Tour de Rock riders reach Parksville

  • Oct. 1, 2013 6:00 p.m.
OFF WITH THE LOCKS: Not only did Oura Giakoumakis

OFF WITH THE LOCKS: Not only did Oura Giakoumakis

BRENDA GOUGH

NEWS Contributor

 

You may notice quite a few people with larger foreheads after several head-shaving events in Parksville Qualicum Beach Thursday after the Tour de Rock rolled into town.

At a Rotary Beer and Burger fundraiser at the Quality Inn Bayside Resort in Parksville, Corporal Jesse Foreman of the Oceanside RCMP shaved his head for the cause and in just one night raised $4,300.

Foreman, who is part of the Tour de Rock team currently cycling from one end of Vancouver Island to the other, introduced his fellow teammates and shared some stories from the road before he went bald.

Foreman is among the top three fundraisers on the team of 22 riders and he expressed his gratitude to a number of his supporters when the team was in Parksville last week.

And while Foreman nears the end of the 14-day epic journey, having reached his $25,000 fundraising goal, he admitted he has struggled at times to keep his spirits high.

Foreman said his heart is heavy because on day two of the tour he found out that his junior rider has had a setback in his battle with cancer.

Everyone on the Tour de Rock team is partnered with a junior rider ­— a child cancer patient or survivor, for a kind of mutual-mentorship. Foreman’s junior rider is five-year-old Lucas Wetklo of Nanaimo and Foreman said the news of his outcome came as a shock to him.

“We just found out that the cancer has moved to an area of the body where they can’t operate.  They thought the cancer was gone. They can’t remove the tumor so they are keeping him stable and comfortable,” Foreman explained.

He said the news has put everything in perspective.

“We meet a lot of kids with success stories but we need to remember the other stories … and that is what is keeping me going.”

The hospitality and the welcomes that have greeted the team in each community it has rolled into is also what keeps Foreman and his fellow riders going.

In Parksville alone, the community raised more than $33,000 for Camp Goodtimes which gives young people with cancer the chance to enjoy a fun holiday with other children in similar circumstances.

The fundraising event included several emotional head shaves.

Oura Giakoumakis confessed that she wasn’t sure about losing her locks, but she decided to do it in honour of her nephew, who is a cancer survivor.

Not only did the owner of the Thalassa Restaurant at the Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course go bald, she raised a huge amount of money ($19,250.50) for pediatric cancer research and programs for children with cancer.

Part of the funds generated from the event will enable 600 kids to attend Camp Goodtimes for free. It costs $1,500 to send one child to camp for one week.  The camp is a place where kids can put the trials and tribulations of cancer on the backburner for a few days and share in the magic of summer camp with other kids who have lost their hair or limbs.

Fighting back against a disease that strikes the ones you love is what motivates Giakourmakis. She and her sister-in-law Kalli Bourodemos know first hand how childhood cancer affects the entire family. Bourodemos has a teenage son who is a Luekemia survivor and who Giakoumakis said has truly been an inspiration.

“Georgios has taught us to be strong and we are privileged to have him in our family.  He got cancer when he was two and he is now 14 years-old … 12 years cancer free,” she said.

She reported that her nephew is doing well but what the family went through on their cancer journey was difficult.

“It was devastating. They lived on the Island and at the time they were going to Vancouver for treatment so they had nobody to go over there.  They weren’t able to stay with us so they stayed at Ronald McDonald House so Kalli was by herself.  Her husband stayed back here to work and she was over there with her son making all the decisions.”

She said it is hard to even grasp what a family goes through and every situation is different.

“That is why I support this cause because kids don’t have a choice.”

As for Georgios, she said he is in Grade 9 and everything is fabulous.

“He is a normal teenager … he has his first girlfriend, plays sports and he is happy.”

Giakoumakis won’t be the only baldy at home.  Her nine-year-old son Yianni decided to shave his head for the cause at the Bayside on September 26.

He said it is the fourth time he has gone bald to support his cousin.

The Grade 4 Arrowview student plans to wear the official Tour de Rock hat he received from team member Andrew Waddell to school unless of course his mom wants to borrow it.

In the last four years Giakoumakis and her crew at the Thalassa Restaurant has raised a total of $83,000 for the cause.

Parksville Qualicum Beach News Publisher Peter McCully and his team mates Joan LeMoine and Dr. Neill Neill said they were overwhelmed by the support they receives.

LeMoine, who has faced the shaving shears more than a few times, generated more than $4,000 resulting in a team total of $6,900.

Just Posted

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station burned to the ground after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read