11 Sep 13
Over $10K raised for Kim Merkley-Brown
CHESTERVILLE — Kim Merkley-Brown is going to Disney World.
The feisty 44-year-old cancer patient and single mom now has the money to make the Florida trip with her children, after the community rallied Saturday night and raised more than $10,000 to make it happen.
Hundreds of people filled the Legion branch for the benefit dance, barbecue chicken dinner and silent auction.
‘Kimmi’ was welcomed inside the door by an applauding crowd of 300, including a cadré of friends wearing special ‘Kickin’ it in the Butt for Kimmi’ t-shirts — ‘it’ being cancer. The honouree herself donned a personalized version that read, “I’m Kickin’ it in the Butt.’
“Yeah, she’s going to kick it in the butt,” said her aunt Debbie DeCooman. “She’s got plenty of strong character, you know? She’s a very strong individual.”
“It’s unbelievable how everybody came come together to do something so nice,” observed Merkley-Brown, who seemed taken aback as the Chesterville Lions Club presented her a with a $1,000 cheque — among a series of hefty contributions from various groups. “A small community can do a lot for somebody in need.”
“I’ve grown up in this community,” she added, marvelling at the number of friends accumulated along the way.
Five years to the day after being diagnosed with breast cancer — which prompted a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery — Merkley-Brown learned in April that she had two brain tumours. Both were removed surgically in August, and she’s currently undergoing radiation treatments for the second time in half a decade.
Upbeat and smiling broadly, she was determined to stick around for the whole party, despite having her energy sapped by those treatments. “Good is bad, and bad is very bad,” she candidly replied, when asked how she’s been feeling healthwise lately.
The cheque presentations just kept coming as the evening wore on, including a very special one of $4,500 collected from her co-workers at Parmalat, where she works as a lab technician (now on sick leave). There were other specially presented donations from the North Dundas Minor Hockey Association and the Pro Skills and Drills hockey program ($840) and the Nestlé union ($500).
Men with the Legion toiled over the barbecue chicken pit, roasting birds donated by Henderson Meats.
“It was a huge success,” said key organizer Lise Buma, afterward. “It’s unbelievable how supportive this community is.”
“So, Kimmi will be able to go on her trip to Disney,” she added enthusiastically. They’ve targeted November but it will depend on the timing of another planned surgery, according to Buma.
Merkley-Brown’s 12-year-old son and nine-year-old daugher will also enjoy the trip with their mother.