Life

Foxstock 2016 shines a light on Candlelighters

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Foxstock 2016 was an evening of music and fun, with a purpose: a fundraiser for Candlelighters Simcoe, an organization that provides support to the parents and families of children diagnosed with cancer.

Cheryl Gotthelf knows how devastating the diagnosis can be. When her daughter Kristen was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 19 months, it turned her world upside down.

“Childhood cancer does not discriminate,” she says. “It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor;” cancer cuts across religion, age, and family circumstances.

Candlelighters, founded 26 years ago by Barb Johnson when her own son was undergoing cancer treatment, stepped in to help, both financially and emotionally. “The one organization that gave us hope was Candlelighters Simcoe,” Gotthelf says.

Kristen, now 13, has been cancer free for 11 and a half years – but Cheryl has remained involved and committed to Candlelighters, helping other families discover the supports that are available outside of the Greater Toronto Area.

Her enthusiasm for the organization has inspired others, including Robyn Freer, owner of Foxwood Farms riding academy, who organized Foxstock, an evening of music, prizes, raffles, silent auctions, and food, with all of the proceeds going to Candlelighters Simcoe.

Kristen was one of the guest speakers at the event. Wearing the “bravery beads” given to her by the hospital every time she went through a tough procedure – taking blood, having a lumbar puncture, undergoing chemotherapy, fasting, surgery – she talked of how t. “I have 10 necklaces of bravery beads,” she told the crowd.

Candlelighters Simcoe currently assists 40 “active” families, whose children are undergoing treatment for cancer; another 100 families stay connected with the organization, participating in programs and events. Those programs range from the “Care Packages” given to newly diagnosed families, to art therapy classes for kids, and a teen peer support group.

Gotthelf thanked Foxwood Farms for the fundraiser, but also for raising awareness of Candlelighters Simcoe.

“I would imagine a lot of you hadn't heard about Candlelighters before tonight,” Gotthelf said, noting that last year, 12 new families were added to the membership in Simcoe County. So far this year, with only half the year gone, another 13 children have been added to the list.

“Sadly, more and more children are being diagnosed with cancer.”

Foxstock raised $6,000 for Candlelighters Simcoe.