COMMENTARY: Edmonton loses one of its unsung heroes

Wendy Grahl at J'lyn Nye's wedding.
Wendy Grahl at J'lyn Nye's wedding. Credit: Tammy Nye

I wanted to take a moment to talk about unsung heroes.

Across this great city of ours, we have many people who – completely under the radar, with little fanfare and almost no recognition – are doing great things for our community, our country and the people in it.

On Thursday night, Edmonton lost one of its unsung heroes. So I’d just like to take a moment to sing her praises.

Her name is Wendy Grahl. Most of you don’t know her name – even though she has been on my show, the 630 CHED Afternoon News, in the past.

She survived cancer five times. Five times. After the first couple of times battling – and winning – she said it was time to give back.

LISTEN: J’lyn Nye remembers her friend Wendy Grahl

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It started off simple enough. She met a woman who was dying of cancer. All this woman wanted was a signed picture of her favourite country music singer.

Wendy went online to find out if there was an organization that could help. But all those organizations were designed to help terminally ill children….not terminally ill adults.

Wendy took it upon herself to track down the singer’s contact information and get that autographed picture. But it showed up a couple of days after the woman who wanted it had passed away.

Wendy decided that couldn’t happen again.

In 1998, Wendy started the Angels Anonymous Connection right here in Edmonton. It grants wishes to terminally ill adults.

Those wishes can be as simple as new bikes for the kids before mom dies, seeing a dear friend one last time, keeping a promise to young children for a family trip, a fishing trip, a quiet getaway, even a wedding.

The families Angels Anonymous supports are often financially devastated because of the illness their loved one is battling. Because of that, the wishes would not be possible because the families just couldn’t afford it.

READ MORE: BC man wants to create a bucket list foundation for adults with cancer

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Angels is a tiny charity that operates on a shoestring budget, the kindness of strangers and hope. The amazing thing is it has never denied a wish that met the criteria.

By the way, Wendy was also one of the founders of Chase the Chill in Edmonton, the group that knit scarves, mitts and toques and left them in downtown locations for those who needed them.

Simply put, she was an amazing woman, with an amazing heart and a true belief in making the world better.

When the money got tight and she wasn’t sure how the next dream would be fulfilled, she simply put it out to the universe and the universe always answered.

A mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, philanthropist.

READ MORE: A moment by the beach — Australian paramedics fulfil dying woman’s wish

It is tiny organizations like the Angels Anonymous Connection that I wish would get more attention and support. It makes major impact on people at the toughest times of their life.

Wendy passed away Thursday night. She has made a huge impact on the lives of so many. I thought it important people know her name.

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I think we all could be more like Wendy — kind, gentle, wicked sense of humor and a commitment to helping others.

She will be missed. Her legacy will live on.