Whistler has done it again, this time raising $15,775 for four-year-old Nadia Phillips, and for other families struggling with pediatric cancer.
The total far surpassed the anticipated goal of raising $10,000 on the Nadia's Nest Egg online auction on Facebook throughout October.
The auction generated donations of goods and services from 76 businesses from the Sea to Sky corridor, Vancouver and one from Australia, and almost 400 people took part in the bidding.
"The outpouring of love from our community was tremendous," said Michelle Williamson, one of the organizers of the online auction. "This experience of giving back to another family dealing with cancer has been emotional and very gratifying."
There were highlights throughout the campaign, said Williamson, touching on a few of the donations.
For example, Norm and Natasha Strim, owners of Nonna Pia's, donated 15 cases of their balsamic reduction. Those sold out in 30 minutes. The Strims then donated another 25 cases.
Their total donation was worth $1,600.
Sean Wells from Whistler VIP Transportation offered his service to not just the highest bidder but to the top two bidders after a last minute bidding war, effectively doubling his donation, which was worth $1,900.
And others such as Meagan O'Dell, who works at the Whistler Children's Centre, donated her time — babysitting services to the highest bidder.
The outpouring of support has meant a great deal to the family.
The money will be going towards Nadia's wellness fund, leukemia research, and to a new foundation that will support parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer in the Sea to Sky corridor.
"We are so grateful for the support we received from donators and bidders in the community," said Nadia's mom Caroline Morris. "We particularly want to thank Alexandra Shanny and Michelle Williamson who organized the whole silent auction. Without them it would not have happened. One day I hope to be there for other families who go through what we are going through."
Williamson and a small group of parents are forging ahead with the creation of a new foundation in the Sea to Sky corridor to help families dealing with childhood cancer.
Lisa Geddes is researching the process for registering and structuring the foundation, Mike Varrin is working on securing initial donations and fundraising opportunities and Williamson is gathering information from the BC Cancer Agency and the chemotherapy clinic at the Squamish hospital to determine the needs in the Sea to Sky corridor.
"We are committed to this project and are confident this foundation will become a reality in due course," said Williamson.
In the meantime, Nadia Phillips is still in treatment until April 2016. But after a year of hospital stays and periods of isolation, life is starting to get back to the way it was before her diagnosis.
"She is doing really well and has started back at all the Whistler activities she enjoys," said Morris. "Most of all — she is thrilled to be hanging out with her friends again."