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Students help out janitor
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Their two children had severe asthma growing up near Barrie, Ont., and the family made their big move to Yellowknife six years ago.
John and Tracy Carter thought their time had finally come a year and a half ago. Their bags were packed, and they were going to leave Canada for the first time.
Then Tracy, a nurse, found a lump the size of a grapefruit on her stomach.
It was cancer. Doctors removed the mass, but last May, Tracy, now 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She heads to Edmonton for five weeks of treatment on Friday.
One day in February, John, a janitor at William McDonald School, was speaking with Kathy Lovatt, who teaches the Grade 8 Catholic students from St. Joseph Middle School.
She was touched by his struggles.
"He was looking for another job so he could take his wife on a holiday," she said.
She started talking to her class, and they decided they wanted to help. Within a few weeks, the class raised $2,280 with their "Pick a Prize Raffle." They had called businesses and groups for donations. They raffled off prizes including an IPod, a hotel room and a barbecue set.
"We had to stop calling because we had so many yeses," said Robin Abel, 13.
Students, teachers and parents from both William McDonald and St. Joe's loaded up on tickets, helping students far surpass their $1,500 goal.
For the students, the fundraiser taught them more than just organization, leadership and team work. Nothing will beat the look on their janitor's face when they presented him the cheque, they said.
"It gave us a really warm feeling in our stomachs," said Tre Bryan, 13. "It looked like he was going to cry."
"When you work together - things can happen," added Colleen Hawkins, 14.
Carter was floored by the students' generosity.
"It was one heck of a random act of kindness," he said last week, his voice shaking with emotion. "It's just so unbelievable that Yellowknife people would do this for us. And I just can't thank them enough."
Meanwhile, Carter, 54, continues to work at the school while his wife undergoes treatment. Tracy has had a small biopsy, and she doesn't know if more removal will be required. She starts chemotherapy Friday.
"Whether that takes it or not, we don't know," John said, rubbing his hands together nervously.
Tracy, who will take one of the family dogs with her to Edmonton, told John she wanted him to keep working - and save his holidays for their vacation.
"One of us has got to keep working to keep up the bills," he said, adding he's still looking for extra work to cover household expenses and the trip.
He hopes by June they can go somewhere warm, somewhere beautiful - someplace she deserves.