TORONTO — When Evan Erlick, right, was 11 years old, undergoing treatment for brain cancer at the Hospital for Sick Children, he had a dream to make the oncology ward more “kid-friendly.”
At 13, in December 2006, Evan succumbed to his illness before he could
see his vision come to fruition, but his dream to make young cancer
patients more comfortable didn’t die with him.
On Feb 21, the first annual Evan’s Dream: Funky Black & White Masquerade, organized by SickKids Foundation and the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), will take place at This Is London Nightclub, to raise money for cancer research and fulfil Evan’s dream of providing other kids with cancer a better experience.
The hope is that the event, which was inspired by Evan, will raise enough money to create a room for child cancer patients to play games, and take their minds of their situation while waiting for treatment.
“My son passed away from cancer a year ago and it was his dream – when he was going through chemotherapy, he didn’t like the waiting room. So the money is going to a new waiting room. It’s for kids waiting to go through chemotherapy, so when they come for their treatment, it’ll be more kid-friendly,” said Lisa Erlick, Evan’s mom and an ICRF board member who co-chaired the event.
“He wanted there to be toys, video games – I mean through an 11-year-old’s perspective, he wanted it to be Disney World, but it’ll be whatever it can be,” she said, adding that some of the proceeds will also go toward improving a room in the bone marrow transplant unit, where parents wait.
Brad Goldhar, the president of the Toronto chapter of the ICRF, a 33-year-old non-profit organization that raises money in North America to fund cancer research by Israeli scientists, said that the event promises to be a great party.
“Lisa and Alan Erlick, who have been very involved in ICRF, have become leaders in the SickKids Foundation, and they basically wanted to do something in the memory of Evan and raise money for both SickKids and ICRF,” Goldhar said.
“It’ll be a cocktail party with live music, a masquerade with a black and white theme… There will be both a live and silent auction, and Michael Lansberg, [the host of TSN’s Off The Record] will be the MC and auctioneer,” he said, adding that he hopes the event attracts 300 to 600 people.
Guests will also be treated to live entertainment, including fire jugglers and an illusionist.
The event was inspired by Evan because even when he was suffering through surgeries, chemotherapy, long hospital stays and radiation treatments, he still thought about other kids who were going through the same ordeal.
“He would always say, ‘I’m going to give them my Xbox, I’m going to give them this…’ When we were there, thank God, we were in a financial position where he could go home to an Xbox if he wanted one, and everyone was so generous with him,” his mother recalled.
“Some of the other kids didn’t have that… There are just too many kids that are undergoing treatment. You can’t have an Xbox or a Playstation for every kid. He was just really compassionate to these kids,” she said, adding that SickKids did its best to offer the kids all that it could but her son wanted to offer them more.
“He was just unique. He was very unique. He had a feisty spirit and a humongous heart. He used to challenge the doctors, and he used to get into trouble. He was just a fun, bright, feisty, compassionate, normal 11-year-old boy,” she said.
“He whined, he complained, he was lazy, but he really, really was a true hero for what he had to go through. The weekly, sometimes daily trips to hospital – and the poor kid wasn’t well… Some people just want him to be seen a certain way… but he was just a very sweet little boy.”
Erlick said that it was a pleasure working with the people at ICRF and the SickKids Foundation because they have been very supportive to her and her family in their quest to fulfil Evan’s dream.
She hopes that the event will raise awareness about what child cancer patients have to endure.
“People should just realize what these kids go through and how they really are heroes and they deserve that when they go for their treatments to at least have some sunshine – something to brighten their day.”
Tickets cost $150 each and are on sale until Feb. 11. For more information visit www.sickkidsleaders.com/evan.