Lockerby students canvas community for Kids Caring for Kids Cancer Drive

When Sarah Bilgasem was ten years old, she and her parents didn’t think too much about her sore leg.
Sarah Bilgasem was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was ten years old. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

When Sarah Bilgasem was ten years old, she and her parents didn't think too much about her sore leg.

However, Bilgasem says she and her family were shocked when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer.

"I was definitely scared," she said. "We didn't know what to expect."

Her treatment took place over eight months and included chemotherapy, physiotherapy and several surgeries. She had to do her treatment in Toronto.

"So I kind of understood the emotional and financial strain [on] families," she said.

She says she and her mother would fly down early on a Monday, she receive treatment throughout the week, and fly back to Sudbury on a Friday. That treatment schedule lasted several weeks, causing her to miss school.

Giving back

On Thursday night, a long-standing tradition will continue for students and staff of Lockerby Composite School where they will canvas the city for donations. The raised funds will go towards the Pediatric Oncology Program of the Northeast Cancer Centre at Health Sciences North.

"I think it's a really good way to involve high schools students," Bilgasem said.

"It's a really nice experience because almost everyone in my school is involved."

The event first started 22 years ago as a tribute to former student Laura Cotesta.

"Laura started this campaign while she was attending Lockerby and fighting her own battle with cancer," Craig Runciman, principal of Lockerby said.

"Staff and students have kept Laura in their hearts and minds by fulfilling her dream and honouring her legacy.

According to the Rainbow District School Board, since the drive started staff and students have raised more than $830,000 for pediatric cancer care.

"For me, it's really heartwarming to see people, help people who are going through the same experience as me," Bilgasem said.

Students will be out collecting money between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. They will be wearing identifiable ribbons and issuing receipts for every donation.