A 7-year-old donates over $300 to the Cross Cancer Institute

Hunter-Lee presents a $325 donation at the Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton in 2020.

 

Growing up, cancer was a topic that was openly and frequently discussed around Hunter-Lee. Years before she was born, her paternal grandpa, Cyr Poitras, had passed from cancer and her paternal grandma Denise Helfrich was diagnosed as well. When she was only six weeks old, her maternal grandpa, Mike Beletic (who she lovingly called Nonno), was diagnosed with cancer. Shortly after his diagnosis, Hunter and her mom, Sam Poitras, moved in with him to take care of him and his acreage. “With my husband, Shane’s support, I moved in with my dad and for the next 7 months, Hunter was always around her Nonno. The relationship they developed was amazing to see. Growing up Hunter has many firsts’ that her Nonno was a part of. Her first quadding trip, first hunting trip, first fishing trip. The memories are endless and held onto,” says Sam. 

Hunter with her grandpa who she lovingly called Nonno

Hunter lost her grandma, Denise, to cancer when she was four years old. And a year later, she lost her Nonno. 

“Hunter has faced a lot of loss since she was little. By the time she was five, she had lost two of her grandparents, people in her life that she was very close to. She’s endured a lot for her age and fundraising is a way for her to do stuff for others while also honouring her grandparents,” says Sam. 

Hunter’s most treasured memories with her Nonno were when they would go on their annual fall hunting trips together. During these trips, it was a tradition of theirs to stop by the roads they drove down to pick up the garbage and empty bottles.

“My dad would spend at least half an hour a day during our hunting trips cleaning out the garbage and collecting the bottles found by the roads in the ditch line, and Hunter would always join him,” says Sam. 

He and Hunter would collect the bottles, clean them and drop them off at a local bottle depot. After her Nonno passed, on their first hunting trip without him, Hunter asked her parents, Shane and Sam, if they could still continue the tradition and clean up the garbage.

Hunter with her parents Shane and Sam Poitras.

“So that’s what we did, we went out and cleaned up the garbage in the ditch line and came back with a few bags of bottles. And that’s when she said that the money we get from the bottle depot is going towards Nonno’s cancer doctors!”, says Sam. 

Hunter was familiar with the Cross Cancer Institute as she joined her mother and Nonno on most of his appointments. “When she was little, she was always with me when I went to all of his appointments. So she was exposed to the hospitals a lot growing up.”

For her sixth birthday, Hunter donated $50 from the bottle depot proceeds and some of her own pocket money to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, in support of the Cross Cancer Institute. For her seventh birthday in 2020, Hunter wanted to donate $150, so she and her parents requested that friends and family support her fundraiser. Hunter raised money by doing chores around the house, selling her old toys, saving funds from the bottle depot and saving some of the pocket money her parents and family members would give her. 

 

Hunter and her grandparents who she lost to cancer. From left to right: Grandma Denise Helfrich the day Hunter was born; Hunter and her Nonno, Mike Beletic; Hunter’s paternal grandfather, Cyr Poitras.

 

With the generosity of friends and family, she surpassed her goal and raised $300. Hunter decided she wanted to make the number higher and used her own savings to put an extra $25 towards her donation. 

“Hunter has faced a lot of loss since she was little. By the time she was five, she had lost two of her grandparents, people in her life that she was very close to. She’s endured a lot for her age and fundraising is a way for her to do stuff for others while also honouring her grandparents,” says Sam. 

Hunter is now planning to raise $500 for her 8th birthday and has already planned to have a lemonade sale this upcoming summer to help her get closer to her goal.


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