Long strawberry blonde hair is one of Emily Gordon’s most striking feature, aside from her smile, and she is determined to have 12 inches lobbed off from her chin down.
Why? For the same reason she is doing the Relay for Life.
“I relay for my stepmom. I relay for the family members who have passed from cancer. I relay for a cure,” Emily said with confidence and a smile.
There is no space for gloom in the room with the upbeat exchanges passed between Sheryl Sadorski-Gordon, her stepmom, and Emily.
Emily joined the fight against the disease in 2014 after Sheryl was diagnosed with cervical cancer that resisted treatment and developed from Stage 1 to Stage 4. Last year she relayed for the first time for Sheryl, and fundraised with her brother, Jacob. The siblings distributed “Fight Like A Girl” and “Cancer Sucks” rubber bracelets at their school for donations. Together they raised $300.
This year, Emily seems to have caught the kindness fever to the next level. She is making beaded bracelets with Sheryl to sell for a donation. She volunteered as a bucket girl during the relay team’s Too Inspired To Be Tired’s Loonie auction at The Crest.
Emily and her friend ran around tables tirelessly collecting tickets from bidders as each donated item was presented for auction. The team raised $13,000 that night alone.
A bit of volunteering and sweat in her spare time is already an impressive act of kindness for a nine-year-old, but donating 12 inches of beautiful locks is another story.
“I want to cut my hair. I want to cut it for wigs and send it off for Angel Hairs For Kids,” Emily said. At last year’s relay her mother chopped off her long hair for the cause.
Emily wants to do it as her part to raise money for the relay and also to allow children who have gone bald from chemotherapy to feel more comfortable.
Compassion is contagious at the Sadorski-Gordon home. At Christmas, the family gave experiences as gifts instead of material items. Emily’s gift came to fruition in early April when she travelled to Kamloops with Sheryl and the two met Team Canada at the Women’s World Hockey Tournament.
“Hayley Wickenheiser greeted us and she also gave us drinks and asked if we wanted any snacks,” Emily said, beaming. Then Wickenheiser gave both of them a jersey with the teams’ signatures scribbled across the material.
On the back of Emily’s jersey Wickenheiser wrote, “To Emily, you will be out here someday.”
To Sheryl she wrote that she’s “one tough gal” — which Sheryl said is hilarious because Wickenheiser is the ultimate in toughness. But Wickenheiser’s sister had the same cancer as Sheryl, and she saw how difficult it was.
Cancer has a way of affecting nearly everyone in a community, some way or another. Through Sheryl’s battle, Emily has experienced cancer at an early age and through that she seems to have fostered something in her character that is infectious: the spirit of volunteerism, donation and positive thinking.
For a history fair at Pineridge Elementary School, Emily picked a topic that she is connected to and that has a Canadian angle. She chose to investigate the history of Relay For Life because of Sheryl.
She offered the history readily, how it started in Tacoma, Washington by Dr. Gordon Klatt and that the first relay in Canada was in Coquitlam. Prince Rupert has held the relay for 19 years, including this year. If anyone would like to learn more, the history fair will be held on May 9 at Pineridge.
After Emily describes all she has done and plans to do this year for the relay, Sheryl looks at her and asks if there’s anything else she wants to mention.
“Oh,” she started and a smile spread across her face as she remembers the news she is about to share.
“Sheryl’s CT scan came back and she has no more cancer found and she doesn’t have to do more chemo,” Emily said.
Cautious in her joy, Sheryl said she’s done with the chemotherapy treatment. “Supposedly it’s gone but of course there’s PET scans every three months. We haven’t won the war yet but the battle was won. We were victorious weren’t we Emmy?”
“Yes,” Emily said with a little bounce on the couch.