Sudbury, Toronto firefighters unite to support 9-year-old battling brain cancer

Firefighters from Sudbury, Ont., and Toronto are facing off on Friday in a benefit hockey game for a nine-year-old diagnosed with brain cancer.

'Until you know your son has cancer, it's hard to explain. It just kind of caught us off guard'

A benefit hockey game is taking place on Friday in Sudbury, Ont., at the Garson arena, for nine-year-old Hudson Fletcher. (Corey Fletcher/Supplied)

A puck will drop later this morning in a benefit hockey game between firefighters from Sudbury, Ont., and Toronto. 

They are facing off to rally behind one of their members whose child was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

Corey Fletcher's nine-year-old son Hudson lost 10 per cent of his body weight last year.

The dramatic physical change kicked off a series of medical appointments, in which doctors found two tumours in Hudson's brain.  

"It's an indescribable moment," Fletcher said.

"Until you know your son has cancer, it's hard to explain. It just kind of caught us off guard and totally sideswiped us. We weren't expecting it at all."

Community support 'blew up'

Fletcher's colleagues within Sudbury's fire department quickly launched a Go Fund Me campaign in Hudson's name.

Word spread to Toronto.

A former Sudburian, who is now the chaplain within the Toronto fire department, offered to have a benefit hockey game, and soon the two associations started working towards a fundraiser for Hudson.
Mark Muldoon is a firefighter in Sudbury, Ont., who helped organize the benefit hockey game for Hudson Fletcher. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

"It just kind of blew up," said Sudbury firefighter Mark Muldoon, who is helping to organize the event.

"Businesses are just coming out of the woodworks wanting to be a part of it, and it's amazing how our community is coming together at a time like this."

This experience for Sudbury firefighters is not new, according to Muldoon. 

He said another member had an ill child about a decade ago. 

Youngster 'excited' to see his buddies again

"It's been extremely difficult," Muldoon said.

"We're certainly happy to say he [other child] fought his battle and won, and we're pretty confident that Hudson is going to be in the same boat."

Fletcher said his family is overwhelmed by the generosity, and thankful their son finally has something to look forward to.

"The thing [Hudson is] mostly excited about is seeing his friends ... because over the last three, four months he hasn't been able to be with his friends," Fletcher said. 

"His number one thing in his life right now is hanging out with his buddies."
Corey Fletcher's son Hudson, 9, was diagnosed with brain cancer last October. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Hudson's classmates are expected to crowd the Garson arena when the benefit hockey game kicks off at 10:30 a.m.

'Spend every moment you can with your kids'

Donations will be accepted at the door for the family. 

"It just goes to show you the brotherhood of the firefighters," Fletcher said. 

"It's really perked [Hudson's] spirits up."

While Fletcher says he does not like the limelight, he is soaking in the outpouring of support for his family, and he has a message for other parents. 

"Spend every moment you can with your kids," Fletcher said.

"Enjoy every moment, because things can be turned upside down at the drop of a hat."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.