All summer long, Graham Tait is embarking on a series of outdoor adventures.
The Calgary man is raising awareness and money for a charity supporting families that are navigating the early days of a childhood cancer diagnosis.
“For a kid to have to have worries like that, every day, every minute — to have to go through the pain and worry — is tragic to watch,” Tait said. “They are just such incredible, wise human beings. They realize life is short and you never know what it’s going to throw your way.
“They are so strong as individuals and there’s a lot to learn from them.”
Tait has already started his 3,500-kilometre trek across parts of the country. He is hoping to collect donations for the cause. His journey’s distance was inspired by the three-and-a-half years one little boy endured with his cancer. Foster Garrison was four years old when he was diagnosed.
Watch below: (From May 2019) Former cancer patients are continuing a powerful tradition for the fifth year in a row.
“Foster is amazing. I have known him since 2016 and we’ve been best friends ever since,” Tait said.
Foster’s family created a non-profit called Fostership. They were overwhelmed and unprepared for a sudden hospital admission when the boy was first diagnosed and didn’t want others to go through that same anxiety. Foster’s mom, Candace Inkpen, said those early days are the worst.
“You’re just immersed in all this worry and anxiety and trying to process information that no parent should ever have to go through,” Inkpen said.
They make care packages filled with carefully chosen gifts for the child, their siblings and their parents. Things like games and toys for the kids, along with blackout blinds and sleeping masks for the parents. Other thoughtful items include hospital parking passes, slippers and journals.
“Ever since Foster was diagnosed, we look towards positivity of everything,” Inkpen said. “Even in your darkest moments, you have to look for that light. For us to be that support for everyone else, that is our light right now,” Inkpen said.
Foster’s nine-year-old sister, Kaidence, helps prepare the deliveries.
“We are thinking about how they’d like love and happiness, and to know they’re not isolated,” Kaidence said.
“It makes me feel really proud and makes me happy to know they will be brave, and [that we’re] making sure they’re not alone anymore,” Foster said.
The family is very appreciative of what Tait is doing for them.
“Graham is just a force,” Inkpen said. “You meet so many people who glow, and Graham is one of those people. He glows.”
“I think it’s nice of him to do that, and he believes in Fostership.” Foster said. “He’s important to me and helps other people, and it means we have another person on our team.”