VIDEO: Cobourg business owner raising funds, awareness for blood cancer research

Jeff Chow, a leukemia survivor, has nominated Amanda da Silva, the co-owner of Cobourg’s The EL Gastropub, as a candidate for this year’s ‘Man Woman of the Year’ philanthropic competition.

A Cobourg business owner is matching funds raised until June 2 during the final stretch of a fundraiser to support blood cancer research.

Amanda da Silva, co-owner of the EL Gastropub, said she was nominated as a candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada’s ‘Man and Woman of the Year’ philanthropic competition by long-time friend Jeff Chow.

“He thought of us and knows we do a lot of community work here,” she said, adding Chow is an acute lymphocytic leukemia survivor.

“It’s kind of that personal connection that we have with Jeff and him being a survivor,” she said when asked about her determination to not only raise funds for blood cancer research, but also increase awareness.

“There are so many charities out there so its important for us to learn about the personal connection, which for us is Jeff,” she said, adding that can be done by having conversations with survivors and people going through this. “It’s not just the patients that are affected by this, it’s their parents and families.”

In a video posted on YouTube, Chow, a GTA resident, told da Silva he was diagnosed with leukemia at 15, just before he turned 16.

“It was September 21; the date will never go away, and (I) was sick,” he said, pointing to flu-like symptoms, a fever and swollen lymph nodes.

“The doctor didn’t really tell me whether I was going to live or die but he did say I have a big journey ahead. Shortly after that, I was transferred to SickKids and stayed there for around four years, in and out.”

Looking back on the time he spent at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Chow said the first phase was “pretty hectic and heavy with a couple of times where I may have lost my life.”

But, he said it was this environment of being surrounded by kids that allowed him to look at the situation from a different perspective.

“I was this big kid going through chemotherapy treatments but I saw five-year-olds to nine-year-olds go through what I was going through.”

Chow said the kids would continue to play and the environment is something that kept him going.

As his time at the hospital came to an end, Chow said he asked nurses about some of the kids he formed friendships with and he learned some didn’t make it.

“That was a wake up call and I guess a little check on how fortunate I was to be able to continue to live. I was sort of in denial when I was a teen… but as I got older I realized how fortunate I am to be able to survive.”

Being part of the Man and Woman of the Year competition is one way he is giving back.

Once the competition is over, the man and woman who raise the most funds during the nine-week campaign are awarded the prestigious title of man or woman of the year in their community. The same recognition is also done at the national level. 

For da Silva, the final stretch until June 2 is focused on raising funds through donations, the sale of gift cards at the El Gastropub and through a $10/$20 campaign.

“Donate something as simple or little as $10 or $20. If everybody does that in all of our networks we can create a significant impact since those numbers add up really quick.”

She is also hosting a Country Club Classic golf tournament May 29 to benefit the society. Tee off will be between 1 to 3 p.m., with staggered check-in times and all proper COVID-19 protocols to be followed.

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Registration is $100 (includes a round of golf, cart, food and beverage, plus $55 charitable tax receipt.)

Email Amanda.leng@gmail.com to register.

Visit https://bit.ly/34BOyTb to make a donation to the campaign.

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