In 1986 and at the age of 15 I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. I received so much support from family, friends and medical staff to overcome, but it was a visit from a BC Lions Football legend / player Lui Passaglia that imprinted me for years to come. Lui came to my home while I was fighting the disease and signed a football and expressed words of encouragement. It was my dream to play pro football and his short visit not only took my mind off the disease I was fighting but made me see a future and dream of playing football that was so needed at this time. Fast forward to 1997 and well after I had won my fight against cancer, and I found myself playing football in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders. I still remembered Lui’s visit and decided that I would start a program for kids cancer patients with the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the Stampeder’s football. It was based on having kids battling cancer and their families attend every Stampeder game and after the game meeting all the players in the locker room, and we called the program Every Yard Counts. The program was a true get away for the kids and families, and like Lui had done for me, having the kids just be kids again for a short time and hopefully inspire hope. The program started in 1997 and just last year in 2017 it celebrated it’s 20th anniversary. We have had 100’s of families from the hospital attend the Stampeder games and it has become the favorite charity of many of the Stampeder players through the years. The program now includes player visits to the children’s hospital before every home game, a players and kids annual sporting event, as well as tickets for children’s hospital staff to the games. The program is full of great Canadians who have imprinted these children. I will list them here:
- Lui Passaglia, a truly great Canadian contributor on and off the football field.
- The Calgary Stampeders Football Club and all the players and administration staff that have supported these kids over the years.
- The great staff at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
- The staff at INLIV who have hosted the kids for so many years in the stands and locker room tours.
I thank all these great Canadians who have made the Every Yard Counts charity program such a success for so many years.
Vince D – INLIV