September 9, 2013
By Julia Dima
|Chris Istace at home with his son, Joshua and his daughter, Ashton. A dinner fundraiser raised $17,000 to help Chris pay for treatment for a brain tumor.|
When Chris Istace was told he had a golf ball sized brain tumor the first time, he was depressed.
Having dealt with long term health problems before, he says he thought he’d been given his lot to carry. But he says the depression didn’t last, and changing his attitude helped him heal.
“I was like a fighter, I was like a boxer in a ring, and it took me a little longer to come to that realization the first time, but when I did, my recovery was very fast.”
Recently, another tumor formed, bigger than the one he’d had removed.
This time, Chris knew he had to be a fighter.
“I’ve got a family to take care of, and I am not willing to leave yet, because my wife is my soul mate. We’ve been together for 20 years, and I want to be well into old age with her.”
Unlike the first tumor, the second tumor wasn’t able to be fully removed because of its location, and Chris will have to undergo radiation treatments, and perhaps chemotherapy.
Chris is a candidate for a grant to receive gamma knife treatment in Winnipeg, a type of radiation that is safer, and targets only unhealthy cells, instead of all cells in the brain, which can cause permanent damage.
If Chris doesn’t get the grant, the cost for treatment and travel to Winnipeg or elsewhere to receive treatment could cost the family tens of thousands.
As well, Chris hasn’t been making an income due to the tumor, and two related seizures. He had to leave his job plumbing because of the risk of seizures, and was unable to work on freelance writing until last week, leaving the family with one less income.
“It’s an emotional strain,” Chris says, “when this occurred, it was a very heavy thing to take, and finances have been tough. . . when you lose one income, it can get to be a strain.”
But Chris and his wife, Coral were not alone.
Tanya Johnston lives in Moosomin, and when she saw what the Istace family was going through, she wanted to help.
“Chris and Coral are good friends, and they needed a little bit of help right now with medical expenses,” Johnston said, “It’s a very helpless feeling when your friends are going through something, so this is an easy way for me to help.”
Johnston said the first thing she did was organize with her friends to get together the dinner ticket sales and an auction.
“It was a big team effort.”
That team included businesses in Moosomin, friends and family of the Istace family in Whitewood, and many community members. It also included a $2,000 grant from Seedmaster through a charitable grant.
“They gave me a call the week before the supper, and told me about it, and I applied for the grant, and it was a couple days later that we heard we received full funding for all the expenses,” Johnston said.
Johnston says that 200 people came to the four dinners, and the dinner raised $17,000, and perhaps more through donations to the bank. The winner of the 50/50 draw, Tera Harper, donated back the $1,280 won in the the draw.
“It’s always amazing every single time I’ve done something like this,” she says, “It never ceases to amaze me how many people come out.
Johnston said that putting together such a successful fundraiser wouldn’t have been possible without the help they got through a charitable grant.
“It was really exciting, and really neat to be part of something like that for the first time.”
Seedmaster helped with the fundraiser through a new program, SḔD (pronounced seed). That stands for social entrepreneurship by design.
“Seedmaster launched its SḔD program to mark its ten year anniversary,” says Cory Beaujot, who works with Seedmaster, “We’ve had a lot of success over those past ten years, and there have been very key communities that have been involved in our success since the very beginning. . . and we saw this as a way to give back.”
SḔD’s initiative is to provide funds to help communities with fundraisers.
“Our goal is to work with fundraisers in various communities in Canada and the United States to make their fundraisers more profitable,” says Beaujot, “hopefully we’re focusing on a community aspect as well, and a profitable fundraiser in a community means that the community is strong as well.”
The SḔD team found out about the Istace family through Facebook and called Johnston to set up the funding.
Beaujot says that the Moosomin community has been a big part of Seedmaster’s success, and remembers as a child how much Moosomin was a part of his life.
“It was very meaningful for us to impact this community in the manner that we did,” he said, “to impact a community that has really been behind our technology for the last ten years.”
Beaujot says going to the dinner and meeting the Istace family was heartwarming, and it was the exact kind of fundraiser the SḔD program hoped to support.
And more projects are already underway for the program.
“We currently have two things on board, one of them is within Regina, it’s with the North Central Community Association,” Beaujot says, “They are doing a lot of really important work for creating community in that area of the city... and I believe we’re going to be working with them to help plan a street fair in the community.”
Another project is in Craik, raising funds for their fire department.
“The fire department has a fundraiser every year, and this year, they need to make a bit more money to purchase a new truck,” Beaujot says, “They’re on a very busy stretch of highway, and they are often the first responders for any accident on that stretch of road, and it’s a hard thing on a volunteer fire committee to be responsible for that kind of thing.”
Beaujot says that small town Saskatchewan has been the root of Seedmaster’s success, and it’s the people in the communities that matter in making the SḔD program successful.
“Small town Saskatchewan has a huge resource within its community, within the people there. The people go a heck of a long way in making all these things come to pass,” Beaujot says, “the funds just kick it up a notch to help make it a more viable and profitable fundraiser.”
As for Chris Istace, the support from the community, and the help from SḔD have made all the difference in the world.
The money raised is going to help with the uncertain medical costs, and seeing support from the community left Chris speechless.
“You can’t put into words what Tanya and her team have done for us, and for many people in this community. It’s unbelievable, it’s very humbling.”
If Chris does not get the grant to get Gamma knife treatment in Winnipeg, he says the money raised for him and his family will be integral to their financial health.
“You don’t have words for what has occurred. It’s beyond any descriptive letter, or note, or advertisement,” he says, “You can’t thank people for something like this. Not because it’s not worthy of thanks, but just because thanks is not enough.”