When Ellen Christison tallied up the total proceeds from the “Facebook auction for Cody & Sam” page she ran for six weeks this fall, she was shocked.
“I obviously wanted to start it so I could help them out, but I did not expect them to get this much money,” Christison said a few days after the bidding closed on Nov. 6. “I thought, yeah, $5,000 would be awesome to help them with costs, but $26,000 is way more than I ever expected.”
Christison said she was inspired by a similar auction run by some women she knew in Smithers, and that she had the idea in the back of her mind when her friend Cody Scheuerman was first diagnosed with cancer.
In the two years since his diagnosis, there have been two other fundraisers for Scheuerman and his fiancé, Sam Kasdorf. The first was a GoFundMe page and then a T-shirt campaign called “Wear the love for Cody & Sam.” The third fundraiser was Christison’s project.
“I had kinda thrown out the idea to Sam, but she said, ‘We feel like the community has already done so much.’”
Then the couple found out Scheuerman was a candidate for a bone marrow transplant in Vancouver. The costs of maintaining their home in Prince Rupert, Sam staying in Vancouver to be with Cody through treatments, and day-to-day finances added up quickly. Cody hasn’t been able to work for two years. Sam reconsidered Christison’s offer.
Christison originally met Cody and Sam five years ago through her father, who is also a fisherman. She was born in Prince Rupert, but the family moved to the Interior when she was seven years old. It wasn’t until she got a job as a registered nurse in the operating room at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital that she returned full-time.
“I knew I always wanted to do something with medicine,” Christison said. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor. And then I had a few cousins already in the nursing program, and it was easy for me to get in Prince George. I applied and got in right away, and I just went with it.”
Although she said that the amount of rain Prince Rupert gets was an issue when she first returned, Christison spends most of her time outside of the hospital doing “anything outdoorsy.” She picked up mountain biking last season, loves hiking and running, and can be found snowboarding on Shames Mountain “pretty much every week in the winter,” she said.
Watching Cody go through his diagnosis and treatment and seeing the outcome of the fundraiser has made her put her own life in perspective.
She was nervous to start the online auction because she wanted to make sure it was successful. Like Christison, Cody and Sam were similarly surprised by the amount raised.
“I think that it says a lot about this little community,” she said. “People are so willing to help their neighbours, to help people that they love and everybody just came together.
“I think it says a lot about Cody and Sam. The whole time they’ve been going through this process, of him getting diagnosed and going through treatment, they’ve been so transparent with everybody about what’s happening. I think people really appreciate being involved in the process, and that makes them more inclined to open their hearts and give,” Christison said.
A lot of time may have passed since she has been a full-time Rupertite and, a few years after returning, she may still be getting used to the rain, but Christison is very much at home in Prince Rupert.
“The more and more time here, I just don’t want to leave. It kind of gets you,” she said. “The people here are what make this town. A lot of people move here and say, ‘I’m not staying here because it rains so much,’ but then they spend more time here and get to know the people in the community. The people really make this place.
“I just feel so much love from Prince Rupert.”