NORTH SAANICH — Cassidy Boland, a Grade 5 student at Kelset Elementary School has participated in the Terry Fox Run since her first year in elementary school, and this year she got a special surprise.
When she was in Grade 1, Cassidy started going from class to class with her Educational Assistant, Kathy Gilbey, collecting Toonies for Terry. She did this each year with Gilbey who is a long time devoted Terry Fox Run supporter.
At the time, Cassidy (who has Down syndrome) didn’t understand what cancer was but she could verbalize that Terry had a broken leg and that he ran to help others in need.
“On weekly class walks, when Cassidy started lagging behind, the only way to get her to catch up would be to say “let’s run” and Cassidy would reply, “run like Terry” and off she’d go with a smile on her face,” explained Julie McManus, the Teacher-Librarian at Kelset.
Her devotion and inspiration derived from the cause became particularly poignant last November when Cassidy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Cassidy’s family relocated to Vancouver to support her through the difficult protocols for treating the cancer and the complications that come with the treatment and Down Syndrome.
Fortunately, Cassidy was able to return to Kelset Elementary this September.
This year, Marilyn Hodgson, a Grade 2/3 teacher and organizer of the annual Kelset Terry Fox Run, received a special red T-shirt to be worn by a cancer survivor in the school from the Terry Fox foundation.
“The Terry Fox Run at Kelset happened last week on Thursday (Sept. 26) but that day Cassidy’s platelet count happened to be down and she was exhausted,” said McManus.
“She was quite tired after lunch and was resting on a couch but there was no stopping her and when it was time for the run she perked up, put on that special red shirt and started walking around the field with her sister, Shaelynne, who’s in Kindergarten,” said McManus.
“Cassidy was truly in her element and had a big smile on her face. As she traveled around, Kathy would suggest taking a break and Cassidy would flash a big smile and simply say, ‘I keep going.’”
— News staff