The Windsor Star
September 19, 2009
WINDSOR, Ont. -- At the annual Rotary Club Children’s Fest this weekend, little boys and girls are taking turns digging through a tent full of paper straw, looking for matches to the toys they’ve selected from a bucket outside.
The significance of the game may be lost on the participants, but it’s clear for Melba Bedard.
Bedard’s three-year-old granddaughter, Katelyn, died in 2005. The little Windsor girl had acute myeloid leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. No match could be found.
Along with other volunteers this weekend, Bedard is manning a booth at the Children’s Fest to raise awareness about bone marrow and stem cell donations. She hopes to talk pregnant women into donating umbilical cord blood and connect with families who could use the financial and emotional support the association offers.
“Had there been more cord blood available, we probably would have found a match for our Katie,” Bedard said. Talking about why the charity bearing her granddaughter’s name was founded, she said, “My son and daughter-in-law didn’t want any other family going through what they went through.”
Bedard handed out pamphlets about the Katelyn Bedard Bone Marrow Association and talked about the work the charity does. The group supports scientists studying issues related to blood and marrow donations and recently offered a grant of $5,000 to the University of Windsor’s Lisa Porter who is conducting stem cell research.
“It’s getting better,” Bedard said. “People are finding their matches,and we’re very happy about that.”
Bedard’s booth is one of more than a dozen set up for families at the Rotary Club’s Children’s Safety Village at Lauzon Parkway and Forest Glade Drive. Organizer Maureen Lucas said the two-day event, now in its 14th year, event draws about 5,000. There are crafts and activities, and shows to take in like Sunday’s Hannah Montana tribute.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Toronto’s Lynzie takes the stage as Hannah Montana at 1:30 Sunday.
Admission is $5. Proceeds go to the John McGivney Children's Centre, Maryvale's Rotary Home for Children and Rotary's Children's Safety Village.
Story by Sarah Sacheli
Photo by Nick Brancaccio
© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star