An Edmonton superhero led a parade of vehicles to spread cheer at a long-term care facility in St. Albert on Monday afternoon.
Mable Tooke, whose alter-ego is SpiderMable, and Santa Claus arrived at Citadel Care Centre to drop off some Christmas presents for residents.
The duo stayed outside of the facility — while residents watched from the window or balcony — as they made the special delivery.
The event was put together by two medical students at the University of Alberta: Danielle Portnoy and Asad Makhani.
Portnoy and Makhani created “Seniors Advocacy Movement” to help bring joy to those feeling isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pair have put together numerous projects around the city to engage with local seniors.
Monday’s event was called the Revive Our Youth (ROY) project.
“It’s named after one of the seniors who lives at the care facility,” Makhani said. “It was meant to raise awareness about social isolation that seniors have experienced. We wanted to spread some joy to those living here.”
Roy Strembiski, the event’s namesake, has been a resident at the facility for about a year. His daughter, Karen Moniz, said it was an important initiative.
“We’re so excited to reach out to the seniors who feel quite isolated lately with COVID-19 and the restrictions,” she said. “We just want them to know we’re thinking of them. We’re outside the windows watching them and we can’t wait to get together with them.”
Moniz said she hasn’t seen her father in about a month.
“It’s been a little bit challenging, hey Dad?” Moniz said to her dad over a Facetime video chat call. “I think this drop off will bring the spirit of Christmas to my dad and the other residents.”
Mable Tooke said the cause also is close to home for her. The 12-year-old underwent treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia – a form of bone marrow and blood cancer – after being diagnosed in September 2013.
She missed a lot of time at school and wasn’t able to take part in many activities young children take for granted.
“They can’t be with their family this year. We want them to know even though we aren’t together, their families are thinking of them,” Tooke said. “I have two relatives in senior’s homes and I can’t spend my Christmas with them.
“I want everyone to know we are thinking about them. We just can’t be together.”
Portnoy and Makhani said they raised about $4,500 for the event through a GoFundMe to purchase presents for the residents.
“Seniors in long-term care can’t spend time with their families, so we wanted to give them a reminder that we are thinking of them. They are there in our hearts. That’s what the whole project was about.”
Tooke became a local hero in 2015, when the Children’s Wish Foundation granted the young Spider-Man fan’s wish to fight crime like a superhero on the streets of Alberta’s capital.
She had become a fan of the comics while undergoing treatments, and an elaborate plan was hatched to make transform the child into SpiderMable and to make her dream come true as a whole city cheered her on.