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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Kids turn to social media to save dad’s life

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The Block family

TORONTO — Kevin Block is a kind man who loves spending his time with his wife and two kids. He enjoys being outdoors, sailing and taking his dog for long walks. He’s laid back, patient and has a great sense of humour. His biggest joys are his children’s achievements and having a great meal.

In June 2013, Kevin, 56, was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has endured countless attempts at various chemotherapies without any success. Kevin’s illness has left him unable to work, and as a result, he lost his business – a substantial source of family income.

The family is, therefore, in dire need of financial help.

At the end of January, Kevin’s daughter Nadine, 23, and son Jamie, 17, received the devastating news that there was no cure for their father in Canada. They immediately began a social media campaign called “Keeping Kev” to fight for his life.

“Our campaign’s mission is to raise the required funds for Kevin to be able to participate in a clinical drug trial only available from the United States. This drug has had great success in the U.S. with his particular type of cancer. This drug trial is not covered by any form of insurance or OHIP. The doctors have exhausted all forms of treatment for my dad in Canada,” Nadine said.

She and her brother decided to create Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to share their father’s story. In addition, people have been directed to a website where they can take a closer look at Kevin’s journey and donate. 

“We turned to social media for our campaign because of its fast and easy accessibility to reach the community. Because of the dire urgency of the situation, we needed to raise funds in the quickest way possible,” Nadine said.

“We also wanted our campaign to be relevant, effective and capture the interests of people all around the world. In just a few minutes we were able to set up accounts, post our story, pictures and links for everyone to see and access. In 3-1/2 weeks, we have almost 1,000 likes on our Facebook page.”

To date, $96,000 has been raised, continuously inching closer to the ultimate goal of $200,000. All of the funds are going directly toward purchasing the drug from the United States, with the goal of putting Kevin’s cancer into remission.

The medication alone costs the family $12,500 a month.

The Blocks “are continuously humbled by everyone’s generosity and kindness,” Nadine said. The community has been trying to assist the family with various initiatives, such as bake sales and Zumba classes, to raise the much-needed funds.

“We constantly receive uplifting emails, Facebook messages and people sharing their own personal stories.”

Nadine said her father “has been blown away by all the support he has received thus far. He is so very grateful and appreciative of everybody’s generosity, hard work and dedication to the campaign. The fundraiser has had a very positive impact on his health and well-being. It has lifted his spirits enormously.”

Kevin has been on the medication for nearly two months.

“According to his oncology team, he is doing really well,” Nadine said. “The medication is taking effect, and there have been significant changes in his blood counts and markers of lymphoma. Kevin is already starting to feel much stronger. He is up and about, has more energy and is slowly regaining his strength.”

When asked what message she hopes to spread to other young people through her campaign, Nadine said: “Firstly, appreciate every day that you have with your family because you never know when that can be taken away from you. Secondly, never underestimate what you are capable of doing. Almost one month ago, I would never have imagined that my friends, family and I would have created such a success in such a short period of time. Being proactive and positive goes a long way. Thirdly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too precious.”

To learn more about Keeping Kev and to donate, visit http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/keeping-kev/117076.

 

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