THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS



Karma is a wonderful thing.

To help with fundraising for Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, one team happened upon a unique idea. They hold fundraising auctions using Facebook. At various times, they have auctioned off autographed photos of hockey players and books autographed by rock stars, and through the past four years, the team has raised over $50,000 for Personalized Cancer Medicine at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

One team member, Pat Park, spent many years working for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and provided a beautiful jacket worn by team members and staff at the Winter Classic, a regular season hockey game between the Maple Leafs and the host Detroit Red Wings that was held on January 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium (‘The Big House’) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The jacket was beautiful, and was certain to draw interest from the predominantly hockey crowd which makes up the membership in the Facebook auction group. The bidding grew higher and higher until the deadline was reached, and with a bid of $225, Frank Vigliotti of Poughkeepsie, New York was the owner of the amazing jacket commemorating a milestone event in hockey’s storied history.

But then Frank did something totally unexpected. “I am happy to win but I would like to donate the jacket to one of the kids fighting cancer, if that’s possible,” he wrote to the auction’s host. “You guys (at The Princess Margaret) do such a great job and these kids are so courageous. It’s the least I can do.  It is great to help.”

The call went out to the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program at The Princess Margaret, a program that provides personalized supportive care to younger patients being treated at The Princess Margaret. The AYA program found just the person -- Shemar Charles, a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan who had received his initial leukemia treatment at Sick Kids in Toronto, but after turning 18, continued his treatment at The Princess Margaret.

Shemar and his mother were delighted to be informed of the generosity of Frank Vigliotti, and received the jacket on August 4. Shemar arrived at the cancer centre wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs’ ball cap (of course!), and when he tried on the jacket, it fit like it was custom made for him.

“Please thank the guy (Pat Park) who donated the jacket in the first place, and please thank Frank (Vigliotti) for what he has done for me,” Shemar said. “I love it!” 

Although it was 26 degrees in Toronto that day, Shemar refused to take off the winter jacket.
Shemar Charles’s cancer treatments are going as well as can be expected, and the recent graduate will be attending college in September….wearing the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Winter Classic jacket so selflessly donated by Frank Vigliotti, a man he’ll likely never meet.

For more information about Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, visit www.teamuptoconquercancer.ca.

For more information about the AYA Program, visit http://www.uhn.ca/PrincessMargaret/PatientsFamilies/Clinics_Tests/Adolescent_Young_Adult_Oncology.