Mom’s death inspires kids to raise funds for cancer research

By Surbhi Bhatia

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Two young boys from Surrey, BC, have turned the grief of their mother’s death into something noble and memorable. Sahil, 11, and Armaan Sidhu, 7, who lost their mother this May due to cancer, have made it their mission to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society, by collecting empty cans.

They have already raised $16,000 in a very short span of six weeks under the campaign Cans for Cancer. Their target is to donate $32,000 to the cancer society this year. They will be present in Abbotsford on Mela Gadri Babian Da on Saturday to collect the cans.

Balwinder Kaur Sidhu, a resident of Surrey, lost the battle to esophageal cancer (cancer in throat) in May 2013. On June 27, it would have been her 32nd birthday. To do an honour to their mom, the boys and their father Sukhmunder Sidhu wanted to donate $32,00 to the cause of cancer.

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Family friend Darshan Sandhu proposed the idea of collecting cans. “Balwinder died at the young of 31. After her funeral, during a conversation, Sukhmunder mentioned he didn’t know where to start with Balwinder’s dream of getting the boys involved with volunteering and helping others. There was a can of Coke on the table and I suggested collecting cans, recycling them and donating the funds to the Cancer Society. The boys agreed and wanted to collect $3200 for their mothers 32nd birthday, which was June 27th. We approached the local radio station. There was an overwhelming response from the community. The donations and cans have kept coming non-stop. We have collected over $16,000 and hoping to reach $32,000.”

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“This campaign has been a wonderful therapy for both the boys and their father, who was fired from his job due to taking time off work to care for his wife. There is no woman in the household now, just their grandfather who helps care for the boys,” Sandhu added.

Indeed the boys have been working round the clock to sort out thousands of cans that are now piled up in their back garage. “Our mission spread through the word of mouth first and people started dropping cans at our house. A lot of people now come to volunteer for sorting out empty juice boxes, coke cans, and water bottles,” said Sahil Sidhu who wants to raise the funds every year.
Being a supporter of the work that his boys are doing, Sukhmander said, “I feel so proud of them. Their mother would have been so happy to see what they are doing. My wife was all about helping others. Even when she was dying, her last wish to me was to turn the boys into helpful human beings.”

Balwinder was an active PAC member and volunteer at the boys’ school, MJ NORRIS ELEMENTARY. She was very much admired and respected woman because of the time and devotion.

Now the kids are carrying her legacy of helping others. Nicola Romaniuk, coordinator, Annual Giving Fraser Valley region at the Canadian Cancer Society, said, “They are just amazing kids. It is one of those special stories that touched every heart.” Romaniuk was at Sidhu’s house to receive $16,000 cheque from the family. “The money that we have received from the Sidhu family will be going towards research and support programmes. Canadian Cancer Society is the only organization working for 250 plus types of cancers,” she said.

Romaniuk and her colleague Carissa Halley have been working closely with the family in this fundraiser. “The boys are almost half the mark. They want to collect $32000. We have also talked to four recycling locations to take the cans on their behalf. If anyone is dropping off cans, the funds get credited to the boys and Sukmunder’s fundraiser – they have to say Can4Can – that is what the fundraiser is called in their system at all four locations,” Romaniuk informed.

Cloverdale Bottle Depot – #6 17918 55th Ave Surrey – 604 576 6777 (If large quantities they will sort)
Panorama Village Return It Bottle Depot – #112 15157 Hwy #10 Surrey – 604 579 0208 (self-sorting)
Newton Bottle Depot 13245 72nd Ave Surrey 604 596 9266 (self-sorting)
Fleetwood Bottle Depot 15093 Fraser Hwy Surrey, 604 585 3544 (self-sorting)

You can also drop the empty cans directly at their house located at 6638, 130th street, Surrey, BC. The Sidhu family will also be present at the Indian Mela festival Mela Gadri Babian Da at Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford Exhibition Park on Saturday, July 6. You can also donate cheque in the name of “Canadian Cancer Society” and send it to Sukhmander Sidhu, 6638, 130th Street, Surrey, BC, V3W4J3. For more details you can contact Sukhmander at 778-862-5143.