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Community ‘Cheers for Grampy’ with donations to hospital and hospice

The Campbell clan, supporters and friends at the presentation of $16,000 raised by the community for Hospice and the Hospital Foundation.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Community effort in support of Team Campbell saw $16,000 raised for Hospice Prince Edward and the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation.

When Prince Edward County resident and Maple Leaf fan, biker, optician, family man and grampa, Mark Campbell received a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer on Jan. 10, life changed quickly.

He immediately knew he had one wish he wanted to fulfil: to experience a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey home game with his family – especially with his four young grandchildren. He also knew time was of the essence.

At local vintner Sherry Karlo’s prompting, Mark’s sister-in-law, Wendy Goodman, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the necessary funds to fulfil the wish. As funds poured into the ‘Cheer for Grampy’ campaign, it quickly became apparent Mark’s wish would not only be granted, but that contributions would exceed expectations and needs.

Mark and wife Heather Campbell decided to share the generous proceeds from the GoFundMe campaign between two local causes important to their hearts: Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (PECMHF) and Hospice Prince Edward (HPE).

“I am Grampy, I am Mark Campbell and I’m going to be fine; my soul is good, my heart is good,” Mark told family, friends and supporters at the cheque presentation Sunday at Karlo Estates Winery.

“We do live in a great community and I feel the love and it’s why I came back. I grew up here and it’s home and it’s a wonderful place.”

As his voice faltered a little, Mark said he really does feel stronger than he sounds.

Mark Campbell surrounded by wife Heather Campbell, their children Billi and Scott, grandchildren, Doug Gilmour (back centre), and (wearing white shirts) mom BJ and dad Gary Campbell.

“I was just telling Doug [Gilmour] that I’ve lost my hockey butt and my hockey legs. I’m a little weak there, but other than that, I feel really strong – and strong through you people – and I want you to be strong,” he said.

Karlo Estates Winery welcomed Mark’s extended family and friends for the cheque presentations as winery co-founder Sherry Karlo hosted the event with partner Saxe Brickenden.

“When you talk about living with death, it’s just such a hard thing to do,” said Karlo. “I just wanted to thank you guys and thank the community for having this opportunity and me to be able to give back to hospice and the hospital foundation because they had done so much for my late-husband Richard and for me,” she said. “It’s a real blessing to be able to give back to the community.”

Hospice Prince Edward cheque presentation with Mark Campbell and Hospice Prince Edward chair Peter Matthewman.

Hospice Prince Edward’s $6,000 will go toward the purchase of a new bariatric bed. PECMHF received $10,000 to be allocated to the new hospital building fund.

“We’ve had a lot to be thankful for from the Campbell family and today we acknowledge a donation,” said Peter Matthewman, Hospice Prince Edward chair. “It truly is neighbours looking after neighbours.”

The GoFundMe campaign has raised $31,407 with contributions from 357 individuals.

“The response to the GoFundMe has been overwhelming in such a loving way towards Mark and his family and all of us,” said Goodman, who set up the account.

She noted that not only are the two chosen charities close to Mark and Heather’s hearts, but to just about everyone in the community.

“To surpass the goal originally, to get to the game together as a family was amazing and to top it all off to continue to support the hospital foundation and hospice is an extreme testament to the community and their support for Mark and his family,” she said.

Also speaking to the support of the community were PEC Mayor Steve Ferguson, MPP Todd Smith, MP Neil Ellis along with hospital board chair Monica Alyea. In town for the weekend for the Drake Devonshire’s Barn Burner, hall-of-famer and former Toronto Maple Leaf Doug Gilmour also said a few words.

“This is quite an occasion and wonderful to see so many people here.This is really touching,” said Ferguson.

Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation cheque presentation with Mark Campbell and Foundation chair Monica Alyea.

The mayor reminded of the municipality’s commitment of $4.5 million toward the new hospital. He also noted that of the $16.5 million target the foundation is required to raise, to date, $10.6 million has been marked toward the goal.

“We are well on our way to the realization of the reconstruction of the hospital and it is a crucial component of this community, not only for healthcare, but because it is a rallying point for our community. It is something we strongly believe in as a community and we are going to passionately advocate for,” he said.

“What a wonderful couple. What an amazing family in our community, and the positivity of a guy like Mark Campbell is unbelievable,” said MPP Todd Smith. “Just the spirit that he has and that he brings to his family and you can tell why his family loves him so much.”

Smith spoke out in continued support of the hospital.

“If you don’t have a hospital in your community, you rip the heart out of the community,” he said. “That’s why it’s so so important that we get that hospital built sooner rather than later and we are committed to doing that.”

Also in attendance were County CAO James Hepburn, Sophiasburgh councillor Bill Roberts and former mayor Robert Quaiff. Matthewman also acknowledged the hospice board members and volunteers present, including residential manager Debbie MacDonald, board members Wendy Davis, Sylvia Kovacs and Sheila Thomas, and representing over 55 volunteers, volunteer Joscelyn Matthewman.

Heather also provided an update on Mark’s treatment plan, acknowledging some encouraging news received this week that Mark is a candidate for radiation to his lung and his brain. There is also targeted chemotherapy, which is an oral therapy that will begin next week.

“We know its palliation, but it makes things not so imminent as what we thought on Jan. 10, so we are grateful for that,” said Heather. “And we are grateful for all of the support that we have received through Sherry, through Doug Gilmour, through our trip to Maple Leaf Gardens [Scotiabank Arena] with our kids and our grandchildren, Mark’s mom and dad and some special friends,” she said.

“I cannot emphasize enough about the depth of love and care that we have received. Our hospital was so amazing in the care that we all received, that Mark received, that I received, that our family received,” said Heather. “And it was very incredible that this generosity has come from our community, not us.”

Matthewman noted he couldn’t think of a family that has been closer to the hospice than Mark and Heather.

Prior to opening the hospice residence, Heather was working as its residential manager. She also worked with the building committee and was instrumental in getting the residence operational. She was also the first person to welcome its first family.

“Reaching the goal was fantastic; we are overwhelmingly ecstatic,” added Goodman, who acknowledged the few weeks since Mark’s diagnosis have been a whirlwind which they have been taking day-by-day.

And whether by chance or by design, the cheque presentations come on the eve of World Cancer Day. Monday, Feb. 4 is a day to bring awareness to cancer, to talk about cancer, to reduce the fear surrounding cancer, to overcoming the stigma attached to cancer as well as learning about detection, prevention and treatment of cancer.

But the last word goes to Doug Gilmour:

“I congratulate everybody here, this is a winning team,” he said.

UPDATE: Mark Campbell died peacefully at his family’s cottage Saturday, May 18, 2019, in the presence of four generations of his family at his side.

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