‘This is a popular event and cancer has hit all of us personally. As a proud former staff member, this is what Trojans do, we stick together’ – former event organizer Nat Brunette
by: Stu Campaigne
West Ferris Secondary and Intermediate School students ranging from grades seven to 12 walked to the Kiwanis Bandshell from their school and sported a rainbow of colours according to grade, not just Trojan green.
The occasion was the 2017 Trojan Parade for Cancer, and a good-sized portion of the school’s population took part. Students raised funds by canvassing, participating in special dress-down days, and other special events at West Ferris.
After the trek from the school, the students, staff, and administrators gathered at North Bay’s waterfront to eat pizza, throw the frisbee or football around, enjoy the nicer weather, but most of all, to hear the total that they had collectively raised to help find a cure for cancer.
The 2017 total was $10,650, of which $9,650 was donated to the Canadian Cancer Society, and $1,000 to the McColeman’s, members of the Trojan family who have been affected by cancer. This year’s donations bring the event’s total over 24 years to just a shade under $250,000.
Nat Brunette has never missed the event and she said Tuesday that it never crossed her mind that just because she is now a retired faculty member that she would not attend. It’s a good thing she did because Brunette was honoured with a plaque recognizing her contributions to the Trojan family at Tuesday’s event.
Stacey Whittaker, a student whose grandfather had battled cancer, started the walk in 1994 when Brunette was on staff at West Ferris. “It started on the back track at the school, with a boom box, and it evolved from there,” said Brunette.
Brunette began in a staff advisory role before filling the spot of the main organizer after a staff retirement. Brunette served as the organizer from 2000 to 2016. Her own retirement has now seen West Ferris teacher Ron Bascombe step in to take on the role.
“I’ve had communication with Ron and we’ve emailed back and forth. The event is in good hands,” assured Brunette with a smile.