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Our Community: Fundraising concert for childhood leukemia, non-stop walk for animals

Fundraising concert for childhood leukemia The Organized Khaos Percussion Ensemble presented a $2,500 cheque this past week to the family of a former Spencer ­Middle School student being treated at Vancouver General Hospital for leukemia.
Members of the Organized Khaos Percussion Ensemble — from left, Nate Williams, 15, on the Taiko drum, Anya Ralph, 16, and Emily Hannah, 17, on the marimba and Noah Howie, 15, on the ladder — gather for a rehearsal at Spencer Middle School in Langford for a virtual benefit concert. [Pedro Arrais, Times Colonist]

Fundraising concert for childhood leukemia

The Organized Khaos Percussion Ensemble presented a $2,500 cheque this past week to the family of a former Spencer ­Middle School student being treated at Vancouver General Hospital for leukemia.

The money will help pay travel and other expenses for the family of Shae Hamilton, 22, who was recently diagnosed with acute ­promyelocytic leukemia and is expected to receive intensive chemo­therapy for at least four weeks.

Following her treatment, she has to remain in Vancouver for approximately three to four months to receive specialized ­treatment.

The non-profit group, made up of children and adults in the Sooke School District, raises money to support families dealing with childhood leukemia through its annual We Can Beat It fundraising concert, to be held virtually this year.

The concerts have been held annually since 2000, and have ­cumulatively raised close to $250,000 for cancer research.

Made up of around 100 students from Grades 6 to 12, the ensemble is led by band teacher Duey Wright from Spencer Middle School in Langford.

“Being able to play with the group and raise money for a worthy cause at the same time is a win-win for me,” said Emily Hanna, 17, who has been with the group since Grade 6.

“It’s an opportunity for me to try new things and make lots of friends,” said Noah Howie, 15.

Friends of the Hamilton family have started a Go Fund Me ­campaign (#ShaeHamiltonKicksLeukemiasAss Fight) with a goal of raising $7,500. They are also organizing bottle drives to help the family.

The Organized Khaos Percussion Ensemble is on Facebook.

24-hour walk to raise funds for animal welfare

A volunteer with the Victoria Humane Society has pledged to walk non-stop for 24 hours next Saturday to raise money for the animal-welfare organization.

Devin Meads and his family have been fostering animals for the society for 11 years, opening their home to more than 500 dogs, kittens and puppies and caring for them until they were adopted.

Meads is combining his love for animals and the outdoors by embarking on the 24-hour solo marathon, called Walk for Paws without Pause.

Proceeds from the event will go towards the non-profit organization, which operates without government funding or support, and has seen donations decline substantially since the pandemic began.

Meads, fitted with a GPS tracker and trailed by Penny Stone, executive director of the Victoria Humane Society, will leave Langford at 8 a.m. March 20. You can follow him on his trek on the Victoria Humane Society Facebook page.

The Victoria Humane Society is a local community group founded in 2013 that is committed to finding homes for animals in need.

For more information, to donate or to pledge, go to

It’s Critical: $7-million goal near for high acuity unit

Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s $7-million It’s Critical fundraising campaign is nearing its goal with the announcement of a $500,000 matching pledge.

The goal of the campaign is to equip and build Vancouver Island’s first permanent, purpose-built High Acuity Unit to take pressure off the Intensive Care Unit and increase critical-care capacity at Royal Jubilee Hospital by 73 per cent.

The High Acuity Unit provides an intermediate level of care between acute-care units and the ICU, and supports patients recovering from surgery, trauma and severe respiratory distress, or those being treated for serious medical conditions like COVID-19.

Seaspan Victoria Shipyards and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation are matching donations up to $500,000, in hopes of inspiring the community to raise the final $1 million.

“The pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of critical-care support for our families and loved ones. Improving the quality of life in our communities is something we deeply believe in,” says Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. “Along with Seaspan, we look forward to matching the community’s donations to complete the It’s Critical campaign and bring this much-needed care to Vancouver Island.”

For more information, or to donate, go to

Scholarship pays tribute to longtime Island surgeon

Friends and colleagues of a longtime surgeon have started a scholarship in his memory.

Dr. Michael Ross, an ear, nose and throat specialist, practiced medicine for 60 years, finally retiring at 85 last October. He passed away in December.

Organizers have already raised more than $49,000 toward the goal of $67,000 for the new scholarship. If the goal is reached, the annual $2,500 scholarship will go to an Island medical student who is training to be a surgeon. The award will be the first scholarship awarded solely to an Island medical student.

The University of Victoria Senate will meet to vote on approving the scholarship on March 15.

If it’s approved, a deposit of $52,000 must be made by March 31 in order to provide the first award this year.

Read more about Dr. Michael Ross here.

Awards in crash victim’s name will inspire Indigenous students

Every year, three Indigenous students at Vancouver Island University will have their financial burdens eased a little, thanks to endowment awards that honour a graduate who lost his life in a tragic crash two years ago.

Created in part through the support of the community, three annual awards will be given out in the name of Micah Messent, 23, who was a passenger on an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 that crashed shortly after takeoff on March 10, 2019.

Messent, who had Métis heritage on his mother’s side, had graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies.

Following his death, friends and family established an endowment fund through the Vancouver Island University Foundation to support future students and ensure his name and memory live on.

The endowment will also support an annual event for Indigenous learners at the university that will encourage them to follow their dreams.

“The ability of this fund to support future students on their paths to success gives our family a level of comfort to know that Micah will continue to inspire others and make a difference for generations to come,” said Suzanne Camp, his mother. “In life, Micah had looked to the future and talked about the time when he would be able to support other students in reaching their educational goals. The yearly awards will honour his memory and intentions even as we continue to grieve his death.”

The Micah Messent Memorial Geography Award, the Micah Messent Memorial Indigenous Award and Micah Messent Memorial Environment Award will be available annually to Indigenous students attending VIU, with various criteria attached to each one.