Inspired by an already enormous show of community support for six-year-old Kai Hennessey and his family, Justin McGregor — the newly installed manager at Sidney’s Save on Foods — turned the store’s 100th birthday celebrations on Sunday, March 8 into a fundraiser.
Kai was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma just before Christmas and has been staying at the Ronald McDonald house in Vancouver with his parents, Kevin and Setsu. Kai’s illness is highly treatable, but the kindergartener will need to undergo six months to a year of chemotherapy, and his family’s life has been transplanted to the mainland in the meantime, with all the financial and emotional challenges that entails.
When McGregor saw the story in the News Review, he was compelled to help.
“It was important for us to include Kai in our celebrations,” he said.
The store ended up raising more than $1,800 for the Hennesseys through customer and staff donations, and the Sidney fire department donated $200 themselves, said McGregor.
Local caricaturist Ryan Forrester from Fun Sketches also donated all proceeds from his portraits at the event.
To make sure staff were encouraged to talk about it, McGregor issued a challenge: if the store beat their $1,500 goal, each of the managers on duty that day would get a pie in the face.
The motivation worked, and the end of the day saw more than $1,800 raised for Kai — and McGregor, assistant manager George White and supervisor Jared Dyck with whipped cream all over their faces.
Kai’s mother Setsu and grandma Lois Broughton were also able to make the trip over, much to the delight of the grocery store staff.
“Setsu was able to make it over for the event and got to witness firsthand the amazing power of a strong and caring community,” said Kevin Hennessey.
“We want to send out our thanks to the community of Sidney,” added McGregor. “I’ve been blown away by the amount of support this community has shown to Kai and his family.”
For more information or to donate to the family, visit http://www.gofundme.com/j42gsk.