Caren Morris, Lisa Alexander, Val Koutougos, Samantha Lawrence, Dylan Nickerson and Josh Dubee were among the friends of the Stradeckes, who helped serve food during Sunday’s fundraiser for the Saanich family. Mallory Cooper-Stradecke died in March at the age of 28, leaving behind her husband and father of three children. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Caren Morris, Lisa Alexander, Val Koutougos, Samantha Lawrence, Dylan Nickerson and Josh Dubee were among the friends of the Stradeckes, who helped serve food during Sunday’s fundraiser for the Saanich family. Mallory Cooper-Stradecke died in March at the age of 28, leaving behind her husband and father of three children. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Saanich rallies behind cancer-stricken family

Father of three grateful for community support after death of wife at the age of 28

Cadboro-Gyro Park buzzes with activity when hunger strikes Tristan, Phaedra and Audrey.

It is just around noon and the three children of Aaron Stradecke have spent part of their morning climbing, jumping and hanging off a nearby playground, whose central element consists of a climbing feature in the shape of a red-coloured Kraken with narrow, sprawling tentacles. But now it is time for some food.

A rare cancer claimed their mother Mallory Cooper-Stradecke less than three months ago, and this Sunday, friends and family of the Stradeckes gathered near the playground to sell hot dogs and soft drinks under a green tent to famished park visitors to raise funds for the family.

Caren Morris, one of the organizers, said Mallory embodied the cooperative spirit that defines Lambrick Park pre-school, where her son Tristan has been attending and she volunteered.

“Even though, she was struggling with cancer and going through so much, she wanted to be a duty parent,” said Morris. “She wanted to help in the classroom, she wanted to volunteer for activities, and she was so excited and engaged. She actually wanted to be a pre-school teacher as well. That was her goal, and she was so excited to be part of the pre-school.”

But the return of her cancer interrupted those plans, and her death at the age of 28 ripped a hole in the fabric of the pre-school. “When she passed away, we were all very devastated, because we had been holding on that for that miracle, and unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” said Morris.

Lisa Alexander, who has served with Morris on the executive of the pre-school, agreed. “Mallory’s generosity was really apparent, and her willingness to give back and contribute whenever she could was really, really inspiring,” she said.

Sunday’s fundraiser has only been the most recent show of support for the Stradeckes as they deal with the emotional and economic effects of Mallory’s death.

Family friend Lesley Arnold has not set up not one, but two GoFundMe pages, and a bottle drive earlier this year threatened to overwhelm organizers with donations. “People were driving in from the Peninsula, from the West Shore with their donations,” said Alexander, who called the response “mind-boggling.” Plans for additional fundraisers are currently underway.

“Being in the same community, we all just want to contribute and lift the Stradeckes up,” said Alexander.

Others, meanwhile, have come forward with offers of legal help to help Stradecke access funds that are currently unavailable because Mallory had failed to leave behind a will.

Stradecke, for his part, could not be more appreciative. “We got to spend some good time with lots of wonderful members of our community, some we know quite well, others just acquaintances, and some who we just met at the park, who just wanted to show us some support,” he said. “I’m just so very grateful for everyone who was able to be there to enjoy the day with us.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local MLA Adam Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip Nation, here seen before the 2020 provincial election, said a new report finding “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in the provincial health care system does not surprise Indigenous people. (Hansard TV)
MLA, Tsartlip member says ‘silo’ approach won’t work dealing with racism in health care

Adam Olsen calls for comprehensive approach in dealing with systemic racism

A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)
Man issued fine after refusing to mask up in Central Saanich business

$230 ticket issued under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

The University of Victoria will mark the eighth annual Giving Tuesday with its Add Sprinkles campaign which collects funds to support various student initiatives across campus. (Photo courtesy UVic Photo Services)
Nearly 150 Greater Victoria groups prepare for eighth annual Giving Tuesday

Last year Canadians raised nearly $22 million in 24 hours

Aragon Properties’ proposed development for the corner of Cook and Pendergast streets in Cook Street Village was voted down by Victoria city council on Thursday night after a public hearing. (File contributed/ City of Victoria)
Lack of affordable housing spells end for Cook Street Village project in Victoria

Council narrowly defeats proposal for four-storey building on former Pic-A-Flic Video site

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Peninsula hospital one where ‘significant work underway’ to repair Indigenous relations

Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Most Read