Kicking cancer's butt

Chelsea Powrie

A seven-year-old Penticton boy with cancer doesn't need to struggle alone, thanks to the support of his community. 

Wills Hodgkinson is battling kidney cancer in Vancouver, at the B.C. Children's Hospital. That didn't stop his hometown community from coming out in droves to support him on Sunday at the Adidas Soccerplex in Penticton, though.

"We have gathered to support Wills," said Margie Hibbard, one of the lead organizers for Sunday's fundraiser. "We're his friends and family, workmates, schoolmates, past friends, new friends, unknown friends, the whole community has come together. It's absolutely overwhelming."

The event included arcade-style activities and indoor soccer, to honour Wills' love of sports. Donations of both money and messages, either written or recorded by a volunteer videographer, were accepted to go toward Wills' recovery and his family's related expenses. 

Cpl. Dan Moskaluk of the RCMP Southeast District arrived in full uniform, wanting to lend his support to what he called an important community cause. 

"I'm a cancer survivor, similar circumstances," Moskaluk said. "So I can certainly empathize with him and his family as to what they're going through."

Wills' young friends were also in attendance. Brandon Neufeld met Wills while undergoing his own cancer treatment.

"I would like to tell him that it's a pleasure being here and that I really hope he gets better," Neufeld said. 

A teacher from Naramata Elementary School was also present, carrying a giant card made of taped-together bristol boards signed by kids and staff from the school wishing Wills well. 

"It had to be big enough to get everybody's signatures, so we built a really big card," said teacher Kurt Joudrey. 

Wills will receive all of the messages from Sunday's event, and money raised will go towards travel and medical expenses during his fight. 

As of Sunday evening, the tally of money raised had topped $17,000, and 40 video messages and over 100 written messages had been collected to be sent to Wills.

Those wishing to donate can visit Wills' GoFundMe page here.

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