Pioneering spirit an inspiration to modern struggles

Dear companions on my journey:

I have recently returned from a trip to New Zealand and Australia. I saw and experienced life in amazing, different countries and marveled at the many wonders and interesting species of animals.

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I can honestly say what impressed me most was the tenacity of the people who discovered, struggled with and subdued the land.

They are countries like ours, as old as time inhabited by aboriginal people and resettled by people from every corner of the earth.

I imagined the stories of how the original people came in dugout canoes, forging their way through the mighty Pacific. As I gasped in wonder at the mighty waves crashing on the shores, it seemed unbelievable they had travelled in such impossible conditions to these lands, and not only arrived, but thrived.

I imagined the primitive ships and wondered at the hardships they endured and how they dealt with the unknown - the many shipwrecks, the loneliness, fear, isolation and lack of everything familiar and safe.

I motored through the Outback and heard stories of the adventurers, the determined people who stuck with it and conquered the Outback. One even had a grand piano carried on camels to bring music and culture into this godforsaken place.

I bowed in deference to their courage, resolution and determination, realizing a parallel to those who came before us in our own wonderful country.

Because of their dreams, determination and hard work, I and the generations to follow will benefit and have better lives.

Great things happen when people dream dreams. Freedom is gained, countries are born, cars and airplanes are invented. Because Walt Disney drew a cartoon of a mouse, millions have smiled and families have enjoyed Disneyland for 50 years.

Nothing is accomplished without a dream and hard work.

This my family believes and we too have a dream, a dream of a world without cancer. Our specific dream is for a world without brain tumours or one with at least a cure for them.

To keep that dream a focus and make it a reality, our family, in their dad's honour, are again running between Banff and Jasper June 2. They run to raise money for research to help the 10,000 newly diagnosed Canadians each year and the 50,000 people living today with a brain tumour. I personally know two newly diagnosed friends and two acquaintances in the last year right in our own community. It could be you or I tomorrow, dear friends.

To the skeptics, who do not believe in research, believe me when I tell you with gratitude about the gift that research gave us in granting my husband Louis four and half more years so he could share time with me, his children, grandchildren, family and friends. It was priceless. He taught us and loved us during that time period. A time we will forever cherish.

We do not know when and how research will make a breakthrough, but we have a dream and we believe. Ask a 25-year cancer survivor if it is worth it.

One of the researchers, Dr. Forsyth, had tears in his yes when he told me there was nothing more they could do for Louis. I urged him to keep fighting and working. His response: "It is not fast enough." Yes, friends, these people do care.

Although we hesitate to ask for your financial support again we know the battle is not yet won. We gratefully ask for your donations for Chantel, Solange and Andrew and their friends who are running through the mountains.

For your support, bless each one of you and thank you.

What follows are notes from my daughters.

Solange Nicholson

June 2, I will be running in the 2012 Banff Jasper Relay in support of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

I put together a team last year as a way to honour my dad's memory. My goal was to raise funds and awareness in the foundation and in some small way to try to help those who are struggling with this disease as well as their families.

Thanks to the amazing support we received, my team raised $15,000. The relay had a record fundraising year and raised over $50,000 for brain tumour research. Once again, I thank each and every one who chose to support me and my team as well as the foundation. We were overwhelmed by your generosity and I know my dad would have been humbled by the response we received.

Last year's experience has encouraged me to enter Team No Limits in the 2012 relay. June 2, my team of 15 runners will be taking to the Icefields Parkway and doing our best to run the 258 km between Banff and Jasper. We will also be doing our best to fundraise for this cause that is close to our hearts.

To support our team's efforts and the foundation, any contribution would be greatly appreciated. A secure online donation can be made by entering http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?regitrationID=1365357&langpref=en-CA into your Internet browser. An official tax receipt will be sent to you immediately via email.

Chantel Lavoie

Our team runs this beautiful relay in memory of my father, Louis Lavoie, who held two more grandchildren in his arms thanks to the extra four years he was given through medical advances realized through brain tumour research and technology. I'm running, therefore, for time for an estimated 55,000 Canadians currently living with a brain tumour and the 10,000 more who will be diagnosed this year.

Please don't feel obligated, including those of you who donated so generously last year. Even good wishes on the day for the elevation and inclines are great.

(Anyone who wishes to make a donation, but does not wish to do so online can contact Judy Lavoie at 306-445-6502.)

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