Local Organization Raises Funds in Celebration of a Special Woman
Published Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Children’s Centre Thunder Bay raised almost $5,000 for the Northern Cancer Fund to honour the memory of Kathy Schmidt, who passed away from ovarian cancer in January.
by Graham Strong
When Kathy Schmidt passed away of ovarian cancer in January, it affected everyone at Children’s Centre Thunder Bay. Her partner Dr. Fred Schmidt, Director of Clinical Development, Evaluation, & Research, has worked there for 30 years. In the family-like work environment of the organization, many knew and loved Kathy.
Diane Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Centre Thunder Bay, said the staff immediately wanted to do something to support Fred in tribute to Kathy. Dry Feb in support of local cancer care helped pull together everyone at the Children’s Centre, coming as it did less than a month after her passing.
“That’s what it was all about,” Diane said. “Yes, we made it a fundraiser for cancer care. But it was also a way for us to support Fred and each other while we celebrated Kathy. It was a sad, emotional time, but we pulled together and were able to laugh.”
The Dry Feb idea itself was actually something of an inside joke as Fred rarely drinks while Kathy liked to make her own wine.
“It was a teasing nod to that,” Fred said. “It was fun and playful. Kathy would have enjoyed the joke.”
Initially, the idea was to raise $1,000, but Diane suggested they “shoot for the moon” and make it $2,500. In the end, they almost doubled that goal, too. Twenty-one staff participated in the event by donating money they would had spent on alcohol, by paying for exemption nights, and through sponsorships. Other employees donated money to support their co-workers and the cause. All donations went towards the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation’s Northern Cancer Fund.
“Kathy spent about 11 months in treatment here at the local Cancer Centre,” Fred said. “They are all top-notch people, and they gave so much to us. I wanted to give something back to them.”
“The Children’s Centre is all about family and keeping things local, so giving to Northern cancer care matched our values,” Diane said.
Donations flooded in from all over including from across the region and as far away as New Brunswick and North Carolina. It’s a testament to the kind, generous, giving person Kathy was, from the music teacher who inspired over 900 students to the woman who would rush out to bandage the cut paw of a dog coming up from the walking trails near their house.
“It just tells me how special Kathy was, that she touched so many people. It’s overwhelming,” Fred said.
Kathy’s Leaf will take its place in the Garden of Hope, and another plaque will go up on the Donation Wall acknowledging Children’s Centre. Fred said he’s looking forward to seeing them once COVID restrictions are over.
“It’s kind of like she’s there in the main hallway of the Hospital and the Cancer Centre,” Fred said. “It’s something special.”