North

Deagan's Day aims to raise $50K for family of sick Hay River toddler

This weekend, fundraising events in Hay River and Yellowknife aim to raise $50,000 for the family of Deagan Clavette, a toddler who suffers from a rare, life-threatening illness doctors are still trying to diagnose.

Parents of 2-year-old Deagan Clavette still searching for a treatment for his rare illness

Deagan Clavette, a Hay River, N.W.T., toddler who suffers from a rare, life-threatening illness doctors are still trying to diagnose, has lived most of his life at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton. (submitted by Jennifer Tregidgo-Clavette)

People in Hay River, N.W.T., are digging deep into their wallets and hearts this week to help one of their own.

This upcoming Saturday has been declared Deagan's Day, a day-long fundraising event to raise $50,000 for the family of Deagan Clavette, a two-year-old toddler who suffers from a rare, life-threatening illness doctors are still trying to diagnose.

"This family needs help," says Shari Burnstad, who is organizing the fundraiser. 

"I honestly can't fathom what it would be like to have a child where you go every day to the hospital." 

Deagan's family is currently living in an allergy-free home in Edmonton near the Stollery Children's Hospital, where Deagan has been living for most of his short life, being treated for his multiple allergies and unpredictable reactions. To make matters worse, his father Kevin is being laid off from the Snap Lake mine.

The family continues to search for a specialist — in the United States or beyond — who can treat Deagan's rare condition.

Even before formal fundraising began, Burnstad says people were "throwing money" to the cause.

When she picked up a large glass jug from the Ptarmigan Inn to use to collect donations, the jug had just been washed. One woman immediately plunged $40 into the wet jug.

"Another lady said 'Me too.' She donated $10," said Burnstad.

A magnet for goodwill 

One of the fundraising drives was selling magnets. One woman gave Burnstad $200 for a magnet.

"We're not asking $200 for a magnet," Burnstad told the woman.

"She said, 'No, I just want to find a place where I can donate.' We are finding that all over. People of the North have rallied."

The wave of donations continues. In addition to thousands of dollars in cash, community members and local businesses have donated airline tickets, barbecues and a patio set for a silent auction to be held Saturday evening. The Lions, Rotary and Elks Clubs have joined the cause.

On Sunday, the annual Memorial Hockey Challenge in Yellowknife, an event to honour fallen firefighters and RCMP, will donate half of the money raised to the Clavette family.

Branden Wasiuta, who co-chairs the Memorial Hockey Challenge, says businesses big and small have stepped up for the cause. Last year the event raised more than $20,000 for another family in need.

"The last I heard just recently is that we are on par to hit close to that or somewhere in that ballpark" this year," Wasiuta said. 

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