Surrey community lauded for its efforts to support cancer research

By Surbhi Bhatia

A modest campaign, started by two young boys from Surrey to collect cans for cancer research, has now turned into a big movement, all due to overwhelming response from the very generous Surrey’s Punjabi community.

Sahil, 11, and Armaan Sidhu, 7, lost their mother this May due to cancer. They wanted to raise $3200 for the Canadian Cancer Society to honour their mother. But as the campaign kicked off they got great support from the Surrey and Abbotsford communities. The boys surpassed their initial target and collected $16,000 in mere six weeks. They reset their fundraising target to $32,000 instead. But now they have crossed that too. The boys along with their father, Sukhmander Sidhu, recently presented a $38,000 cheque at their home to the Canadian Cancer Society staff.

Thanking the entire Surrey community, Sukhmunder, said, “We would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and contributions for the Cans for Cancer campaign. We are so proud of the entire Surrey community and especially our own Punjabi community. Our community is so giving. Since the time our people came to know about the fundraising, the cans and donations are just pouring in. One guy came to donate $1000 cheque. There was another person who gave me his entire one day salary. I am extremely thankful to my Punjabi people.”

“I am so inspired to see these two young boys’ incredible effort. Their story has become such a great example for others that they have received overwhelming response,” said Deanne Salituro, team lead, Annual Giving for Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon region.

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 wanted to donate $32,00 to the cause of cancer.

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 amazing response. The donations and cans have kept coming non-stop. Without the time and effort from all the friends and volunteers, none of this would have been possible.”

The boys have worked round the clock to sort out thousands of cans 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 came 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.”

“We would like to extend a special thanks to media like RED FM, Global TV, CBC, OMNI TV, The Indo-Canadian Voice/Awaaz, Leader, Now. Also Bhatti family, Brar family (Abottsford), Bhavana Kaur Mann and Harbhajan Mann, Manjit Parmar, Bruins Hockey Team c/o Surrey Minor Hockey, Encorp corporation, Cloverdale Sports, Panago Pizza-Newton c/o Harry Hundal, MJ Norris Elementary, Brian Svoboda, Komal Sidhu, Justin Mand, Vancity-Newton, CIBC Balvindr Virk c/o Village farms, Malkit Sidhu, Karm Singh Sekhon, Boston Restoration c/o Kamaljit Senghera, Manjit & Baljinder Padda and the Sandhu family,” added Darshan Sandhu.

For more information and online donations, please visit www.cansforcancerbc.ca.