It was expected to be a simple promise to fulfill.
A daughter’s wish was to walk in her mother’s memory after losing her to cancer, but this weekend she was told that wish couldn’t be granted, after her fundraising efforts fell short for the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s ‘One Walk To Conquer Cancer’.
Brittany Abb’s mother, Barb, passed away from cancer in April at the age of 58.
“First it was stage four lung cancer, then a few months later it went to liver and bone cancer, and at the very end the bone cancer was like a vine around her spine,” Abb said.
Brittany’s three-year-old son Emmet didn’t know his grandmother for long, but she left a big impression on him and many others.
“All my friends and everybody’s friends referred to her as mom. She was always there. She would give you the shirt off her back,” Abb said about her mother.
When Barb was on her death bed, Brittany says she signed up for the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s ‘One Walk to Conquer Cancer’.
She says at the time, she wasn’t informed of her obligation to raise a minimum of $1,500.
“We were all for it and then our mom died, so we had to stop the fundraising, just so we could grieve as a family.”
Brittany says the day before the run, she received a troubling update.
“I got a call, that if we didn’t come up with the $1,500 we could still walk but we would have to sign a document stating in 60 days, if we didn’t have the money, they could sue us for it. So we decided not to walk because we can’t be liable for that,” Abb said.
This year, the charity event raised nearly $1 million and about 500 people participated.
“Well these kinds of events are extremely important from the perspective that it’s a challenge to actually do the 25 kilometres in one day, but also the challenge in raising money – that’s why we’re here,” Myka Osinchuk, from the Alberta Cancer Foundation, said.
The foundation added that Brittany should have been told about the minimum donation.
“It is something that we make every participant aware of and we have a lot of tools for each participant to help them raise money,” Osinchuck said.
But for Brittany, her friends and family, the reason to walk was always about her mother, with a hope to help others and receive a little comfort in return.
“We should be able to walk no matter how much money is raised or not raised,” Abbs said.
“We know we’re not alone but we don’t know anyone who’s been through it, so just the support would have been great,” Abb said. “I just wrote on the cancer shirt my Mom’s name and all our friends and family had signed it and now it’s just hanging up on the wall.”
The Canada Revenue Agency said in most cases, a registered charity also cannot return a donor’s gift.
Once the transfer is made, the charity must use the gift towards its charitable purposes.
“I want there to be fundraising, people can still fundraise and they’re encouraged to fundraise, but they should still be able to walk if they did not raise the money,” Abb said. “It’s support, it’s showing people they’re not alone in this journey. It’s not just the people fighting cancer, it’s their families and friends that also have to deal with it.”
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