Special to the Nor’wester
Community spirit shined through in Pilley’s Island on Friday with the Pilley’s Island Recreation Committee hosting an all day fundraiser for the Janeway. The “Shave For The Brave” fundraiser was set up in the name of local resident Izaih Whalen and was simply called “The Izaih Whalen Project”. The Janeway is a place that Izaih knows about all too well. Having been diagnosed with Leukemia back in October 2010, it has become like a second home to him and his family. Four year old Izaih, in a selfless act of courage, volunteered to have his head shaved to raise money to help other kids who are sick just like him.
Nora Tizzard, Chairman of the Pilley’s Island Recreation Centre said that Izaih’s family and the centre had been discussing some kind of fundraiser for a while. It all started a while back with selling Janeway chocolates during which time Izaih sold six cases all by himself. It was his mother Amanda that had the idea for the “Shave For The Brave” event, and Izaih was more than happy to be a part of it. Recreation Committee members along with Izaih’s family and friends volunteered for a full day of events on Friday with local businesses contributing as well.
Drivers couldn’t get through Pilley’s Island on Friday without finding out about the fundraiser. There was a toll booth set up at the entrance to town collecting donations and selling balloons. Some of the volunteers taking shifts at the toll booth included Izaih’s grandma Faye and his Aunt Kayla. This part of the fundraiser alone brought in almost $500 for the Janeway. The entrance to the recreation centre was like a revolving door with residents of Green Bay South dropping by to show their support and words of encouragement for Izaih. They also dropped off hundreds of rolled tubes of pennies for Izaih’s little red wagon. Volunteers served a luncheon and were selling burgers and pop all day long to the many people stopping in.
Since Izaih was diagnosed with Leukemia and started treatment he has lost his hair twice and it has just recently grown back again. At the fundraiser he was donning his beautiful blond curls for everyone to see before having it all cut off for charity. He sat on his mother’s lap while volunteer hairdresser, Yvette Ryan from Robert’s Arm, shaved his head in front of a crowd of people cheering him on. He was a real trooper through the whole thing and even made funny faces afterwards to show everyone that he was ok with it. Then he sat and watched his mom get her head shaved. Six other people generously gave their hair for charity, including Izaih’s grandfather Bruce Payne. The other volunteers included Dana Rice, Betty White, Jeremy Heath, Synjin Fudge, and Kyle Payne.
In speaking with Izaih’s mom, Amanda, it’s easy to see that she and her family are happy to be giving something back to the Janeway and they appreciate all the community support for this fundraiser. They also appreciate everything the community has done for them since their lives changed so suddenly back in 2010. There have been previous fundraisers for the family to help with their travel expenses while staying in St. John’s for treatments. Ten weeks after Izaih was diagnosed with Leukemia, Amanda found out she was pregnant with her second child, Spencer, who is now 9 months old. When Spencer was born his umbilical cord was taken to the blood bank in Toronto in the event that Isaiah’s Leukemia comes back down the road. If Spencer is a match to his brother, the doctors can use Spencer’s stem cells to treat Izaih. They still have a long road ahead of them with another 19 months of chemotherapy but Izaih’s prognosis is really good and they have the support of family, friends and the entire community behind them.
Nora Gizzard proudly reported that as of Monday afternoon, the community had raised $6,228 for the Janeway in Izaih’s name which is really something to be proud of for such a small community. Nora also said that Izaih’s family are very happy with the amount raised.