A pair of Vancouverites driving across Canada to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities stopped in Red Deer on Monday.
Alex Wong, 29 and his 26-year-old brother Mark said the cross-country trek is part of their mission to cross an item off their bucket list – which falls in line with the motto of a young girl Alex met at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver in 2013.
“Her name was Brooke Malakoff and she had a tagline and that was 'Live your dash,’ and I wanted to live mine, so I thought I want to drive across Canada, but I also want to give back to the community,” Alex said. With the RMHC’s Make Fun Matter campaign, which allows users to link fundraising to just about any activity, the brothers’ quest was made possible.
“On your gravestone, you have a period -- your birth and your death,” Alex explained about the ‘live your dash’ adage. “It’s up to you to define what you're going to do with that dash -- make the most of your life.”
Malakoff, a teen girl from Fernie, BC, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her lungs in 2011. She passed away in the fall of 2015, but not before making that profound impact on Alex.
“I was very fortunate just a couple days ago to finally meet her mother for the first time,” he said. “It was incredibly touching for me to see her. She raised a wonderful daughter who was an advocate for Ronald McDonald House and other charities that support children who really need it.”
Rhanda Bonet-Graham, Development Manager with RMH Central Alberta, says the efforts of everyday Canadians like Alex and Mark are integral to keeping the 15 houses and 16 family rooms, all of which the Wongs are visiting, afloat.
“All the houses are 100 per cent donation-based. We don’t receive any government funding, so each of our houses has to raise its own operating budget,” she said.
“Anyone who has a child in the Red Deer Hospital can come and utilize the house and that’s what sets our house apart,” Bonet-Graham continued, noting they’ve had families stay there from the Phillipines and France. “We have a very vibrant inclusive day-use program, so it’s not just families who live outside of Red Deer, but Red Deerians who have a child in the hospital can come and rest a while or grab a home-made meal made by fantastic volunteers and use this house for emotional and physical support.”
The brothers have raised more than $7,000 thus far with Alex committing an additional $10,000 of his own money at the end of the trip -- with a targeted total of $20,000. Their trip began August 18 in Victoria, BC and ends September 9 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Once the trip is over, money will be dispersed to all houses across Canada on a per room basis.
To learn more or to donate, visit their personal fundraising page.
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