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Students Give Where They Live – in excess of $20,000

An ice-cream eating contest among the fun activities at Give Where You Live assemblies this week at Prince Edward and Hastings schools.

UPDATE: The Give Where You Live tour blew away all expectations during its first tour through the region.

With money from sponsoring schools and students still coming in, as it stands right now the effort has brought in upwards of $20,000 – which is double the initial $10,000 goal of the tour.

All of the funds will be used to support local children attending Camp Trillium’s OuR Island, which is located off the shores of Wellington, in Prince Edward County.

Over the course of four days, from Oct. 10 to Oct. 13, police officers and teams of community volunteers cycled to 12 schools across Hastings and Prince Edward counties to play host to
special assemblies that include ice-cream eating contests, music and fun.

Story and photos by Olivia Timm
Students gathered at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute waved banners and cheered as police officers cycled into the school on the second day of the Give Where You Live tour.

Upon arriving at PECI, rider Cst. Kim Guthrie hugs alumni Sarah Reddick.

Formerly known as Pedal For Hope, the GWUL tour features a new name this year but the same cause – supporting the fight against childhood cancer. This is the sixth year officers from Hastings and Prince Edward counties have cycled around the area to raise funds and awareness.
​​In its inaugural year, all GWUL donations are going toward Camp Trillium Garratt’s Island at West Lake, which supports children and their families in their battle against cancer.
​​PECI raised more than $1,000 and also welcomed Queen Elizabeth School students to the assembly Wednesday morning to support some Panthers, past and present, in their fight against the illness.

Cst. Kim Guthrie with Abby Heffernan

​​Abby Heffernan, a Grade 11 student at PECI, shared her story about learning she had leukemia in less than three weeks into Grade 9.

“I’m sure many of you have heard the expression bringing a knife to a gunfight. Battling cancer is like walking unexpectedly into a shoot off and having nothing, except optimism, to help you fight.”

She reminded everyone that although life at times can seem unfair, it makes you strong as a Panther.
​​“I’ve learned you can’t control what life throws at you, but you have to take what you get and do something with it, because the times you feel weak, are often the times you are the strongest.”

Spending more than 300 days in hospital, she noted she met some of the strongest kids, some of whom are “now the most beautiful angels.”

Cst. Kim Guthrie with Kaden and Kensey Koutroulides who raised $300 for Give Where You Live. Photo by Greer Koutroulides.

“Those hospital days consisted of getting ready for scans instead of getting ready for school… It becomes a lifestyle. You have to learn how to accept these struggles as every day situations. You have to prepare yourself to spend days, weeks, even months in bed. Your body is constantly set in fight or flight mode, because with this disease, anything can change at any moment.

“You must put any feelings of envy, or negativity behind you, because you can’t doubt for a second you’ll lose this fight.”
​​Heffernan said she is glad the donations are going toward Camp Trillium – a summer camp that gives children the opportunity to forget the stigma around being ill and being treated differently.

PECI teacher Rob Garden all smiles with his efforts in the ice-cream eating contest.

​​“There’s a lot of struggles battling through this, but one of the hardest things is being looked at like you’re different,” said Heffernan. “This is why I am more than happy that donations that are fundraised are going toward Camp Trillium. Being at camp gives kids a chance to be themselves, and be accepted for who they are, not what they’re going through. Camp gives children back their identity that was taken when they were diagnosed,” Heffernan told the audience.
​​Also in attendence was PECI alumni Sarah Reddick and her family. Prince Edward OPP Constable Kim Guthrie rides in honour of Reddick, who beat her battle with cancer twice during high school, and returns to the tour each year to support the cause and honour others who struggle with the illness.
​​Sarah Reddick’s younger sister Katherine provided three hand-made banners for the assembly that had names of all the riders who have participated in past years.
​​Student Ella Woods is also fighting cancer and though she was not able to attend the assembly, her fellow students showed their support for her while gathered around a signed banner.
Following the assembly, the tour visited St. Gregory Catholic school, then CML Snider. Thursday’s visits are scheduled at Massassaga Rednersville and Kente public schools.

​​Officers will cycle to 11 schools across Hastings and Prince Edward counties over four days to host enthusiastic assemblies.
​​Guthrie said GWUL has already collected around $4,400 as of Tuesday out of the $10,000 goal. The funds, she notes, are raised by students prior to the tour and presented at each stop.
​​Belleville Police Cst. Jeremy Ashley is part of the organizing committee and says volunteers, sponsors and supporters are excited for a fresh approach to the tour.
​​“We are standing at the start line of something new that we believe will have an incredibly positive impact on the places we all call home,” he said.

Students raised more than $1,000 for Camp Trillium at Garratt’s Island, West Lake.


Filed Under: cheersHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardLocal NewsPECI - It's a Panther Thing

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