A young girl from Beeton, Ont., is in for a big surprise on Saturday as she gets ready to celebrate her 12th birthday.
For the past month, Sarah Hamby has been at the centre of a campaign aimed at keeping her spirits high amid her fifth battle with cancer.
Sarah was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2012 when she was just three years old.
The following years saw her undergo a number of treatments including chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, CAR-T cell therapy and a stem cell transplant. Sarah also saw four relapses of ALL, with the latest arriving on Oct. 29.
When Sarah’s mother Gillian informed friends of the latest relapse, she requested birthday cards to help cheer Sarah up.
Family friend Leila Paugh spread the message even further and in the weeks that followed, folks from all over the world took part in the “Birthday Bonanza for Sarah.”
Const. Ed Sanchuk of Norfolk County OPP did his part in helping the campaign with a Nov. 16 tweet that quickly went viral.
Since then, he’s spent the past few weeks collecting birthday cards and gifts at the OPP detachment in Simcoe.
“I cannot get over the amount of support that we’ve received, just not from the province of Ontario, but Canada and around the world,” Sanchuk said on Let’s Talk London with Jess Brady on Friday.
“I’ve talked to so many different people from Italy, Germany, Ireland, the U.K. and it’s just phenomenal and astounding how much support young Sarah has behind her right now.”
Sanchuk will be personally delivering the goods to Sarah on Saturday, but says his pickup truck barely has room for his family with all the extra luggage he’s hauling.
“The gifts are never-ending,” Sanchuk said.
“I guarantee you over the next couple of weeks we will still have other items showing up, but rest assured any items that do arrive… they will get delivered to Sarah Hamby.”
Paugh, the family friend of Sarah’s who organized the campaign, says she’s overwhelmed with the amount of support the young girl has received.
“Just one little person, a stranger to most of these people, and yet it just inspired everybody to feel something,” Paugh said.
The Niagara Falls woman adds that the entire campaign has been kept a secret from Sarah.
“She literally has no idea what’s going on,” Paugh said.
“We have OPP doing a drop-by, we have the local fire department doing a drop-by, we have the Town of Beeton doing a drive-by and we’re just going to eat cake and have a good time.”
As for Sarah, Paugh says the young girl is doing well, having returned home on Friday from a recent appointment for chemotherapy treatment.
“(Saturday) will be a great day for her.”