Parksville’s Joan Lemoine, right, is joined by friend Joan Gould during her visit to Camp Goodtimes in early August. Lemoine has raised more than $25,000 to send childhood cancer victims to the camp over the past six years. — Photo submitted by Joan Lemoine

Parksville super fundraiser living the dream

87-year-old Joan Lemoine has amassed more than $25,000 for childhood cancer victims

Joan Lemoine says a dream spurred her to shave her head to benefit childhood cancer victims. This summer, her contribution resulted in a dream come true.

Lemoine, an 87-year-old Parksville woman, has raised more than $25,000 in six years of haircuts for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock. In August, she was invited to spend a day at Camp Goodtimes, the Canadian Cancer Society’s camp for children with cancer at Loon Lake in Maple Ridge.

“It’s been on my bucket list for eight years, and now I can check it off,” said Lemoine. “I felt so honoured and so privileged.”

Lemoine will resume her fundraising efforts for the children on Sept. 28, when the riders in 20th annual Tour de Rock roll into Parksville on their run from Port Alice to Victoria. She is currently gathering donations to have her head shaved during the Beer &Burger Night fundraiser at Quality Resort Bayside that evening.

“So far, people aren’t crossing the street to avoid me,” Lemoine said with a laugh. “I don’t think.”

Lemoine, an active volunteer in the community and the City of Parksville’s hostess for its monthly Coffee with Council sessions at city hall, has been rubbing shoulders with civic and business leaders since she and her husband Jim arrived 22 years ago.

In 2010, shortly after being widowed following Jim’s death, she had a dream in which she was getting her head shaved along with Kim Burden and Bill McKinney of the Rotary Club of Parksville, which hosts the local Beer &Burger Night. She said she phoned McKinney to find out how she could get involved, and before they knew it, McKinney and Burden were sitting under the clippers.

“When Joan comes to you and says, ‘I had a dream,’ that’s not Martin Luther King talking,” said McKinney. “That’s Joanie talking, and you’d better listen. Kim and I were talking about doing it, but Joan was the one who pushed us over the cliff, so to speak.”

Lemoine raised $5,000 alone that year, while McKinney said he and Burden together were able to roughly match that total.

At the time, Lemoine said, she figured the shave would be a one-time deal.

“I never thought about it until later the next year, when somebody asked me if I was going to do it again,” she said. “At first I probably said no, and then I thought, ‘What the heck, it’s only hair and it’s gonna grow back.’

“And then somebody gave me money.”

She’s been a money-collecting machine ever since. And, Lemoine says, it’s all for the kids.

“My money doesn’t go to (cancer) research,” she said. “My money goes to send little kids to camp. It’s the only way I can help them; I don’t have money to give them.”

Lemoine’s goal this year is to raise $7,500, which would send five children to Camp Goodtimes for a week.

This year, she finally got to see what her contribution is providing for the children. But, she said, she very nearly missed out on the chance.

“Last year, when I sent in the last of my money, the girl said, ‘Is there anything we can do for you?’” Lemoine said. “And I said, ‘No, thanks.’

“Then, after I got off the phone, I said to myself, ‘Now, why didn’t I say I want to go to camp?’”

When she called back to request a visit, she was told there were no openings for visitors, but that her name would be added to a wait list.

Then, on just a week’s notice, she was informed a cancellation had created an opening, and she travelled with close friend Joan Gould to spend a day at camp with 36 kids, ages one to seven.

“I knew it was a camp, but I had no idea what it was like,” she said. And I knew it was for kids with cancer, and I had no idea what that was like. But it was amazing. When you’re playing there, they don’t care if you’re bald or if you only have one arm or one leg. As long as you’re having fun and you’re laughing, that’s what’s important.”

For the first time this fall, Lemoine has added a new wrinkle to her fundraising campaign — self-addressed and stamped envelopes into which people may place a cheque and drop off in the mail.

Cheques may also be made out to Cops for Cancer and dropped off in Lemoine’s name at the Parksville Canadian Legion branch or at the City of Parksville administration office, she said.

Then, it’s on to the Rotary’s Beer &Burger Night, and the unveiling of Lemoine’s latest hairstyle.

“That first year, Joanie took it right down to the floorboards,” said McKinney. “Sometimes she gets it cut stylishly short.

“With hair or without hair, Joanie is a beautiful woman and should be applauded by the people of Parksville, as well as by the kids at Camp Goodtimes.”

The Beer &Burger Night begins at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Quality Resort Bayside.