A Thornhill family who lost their son to a rare form of brain cancer has teamed up with a marketing company from Pickering to create a picture-perfect way to keep his memory alive.
Not a day goes by that Stan and Marisa Bertoia don’t think of their youngest son Daniel.
“He excelled at everything,” said Stan.
Weeks before his 17th birthday, Daniel was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.
“Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, but unfortunately the location of the tumour, surgery was not an option,” said Marisa.
Daniel died about 18 months later in 2008.
Through the years, the family has continued to honour his memory by raising awareness and funds for DIPG research at SickKids.
“We’ve raised $750,000 to date,” said Stan.
The Bertoias teamed up with CF&R Services in Pickering to create their latest initiative, BetterSocks, which launched last month after being delayed by the pandemic for more than a year.
“People like funky socks and colourful socks and because they tell a story and the story’s included with the delivery of the socks it really makes an impact,” said Stan.
The family picture Daniel drew in Grade 1 and his favourite colour, red, are depicted on his socks.
“To honour him with his own artwork it’s amazing, it just keeps his memory alive for us,” said Marisa.
Artwork from other children who’ve gone through a similar journey is also showcased.
“There’s 13 pairs, 10 artists altogether, 13 different designs. We have four featured socks and nine limited-edition socks you will see on our website,” said Sharon MacPherson, CF&R Services marketing services director.
Ariana Ayoub, community partnerships manager at the SickKids Foundation, says each sock represents a specific patient.
“We did collect quite a bit of pieces at the time so each sock represents a different patient’s artwork. We haven’t had to put more than one piece on a sock so every sock is very individual to that specific patient,” Ayoub said.
So far close to 1,000 pairs of BetterSocks have been sold and there’s an inventory at CF&R Services of about 19,000 more. The hope is to keep the ball rolling and expand down the road to include more designs.
As for the Bertoias, they’ll continue to keep their son’s legacy alive one step at a time with the dream of one day helping find a cure.