The community is rallying to support a Woolwich man diagnosed with brain cancer.
Local families, friends, and businesses have been raising money for BJ Goodwin, his wife Missie, and their two young children. The funds will cover the multitude of unexpected costs associated with the health issue, including the 30 radiation treatments and chemotherapy necessary to treat the cancer.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. This is an awesome community,” said Goodwin, who has been off work since he found out about his diagnosis on November 18.
It all started from a bottle drive that was organized by family friends Julie Weber, Don Schlupp and Andy Schlupp. Other helpers included Jesse Schott, Jordan Schott, Ryan Weber and Alex Luft.
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The group went around town – making close to 100 stops – collecting beer cans, liquor/wine bottles and cash donations on January 25. When it was all said and done, over $7,000 was raised from the bottle drive alone to support the Goodwin family.
But just how did the cause become so well-known? BJ and Missie are long-time members of the community, having both attended EDSS.
“I know probably half the town from growing up, because I’ve always been here. I grew up in Conestogo but I’ve always been in Elmira because all my friends are here,” said BJ. “So that’s the thing, I’ve always been here.”
“I work in town. I’m a hairdresser so there’s that, too,” said Missie.
“We didn’t even do very much … it really took off on Facebook,” she said of the community response.
Ever since the word got out about the bottle drive, the cause picked up traction – Elmira brewpub Rural Roots dedicated one tap (Here We Go!) on January 25, for instance. One dollar from every pour was donated to the Goodwins.
On February 15, the band Under Surveillance will be playing live at Rural Roots. There will be a $5 cover charge, with all the money going towards the Goodwins.
The Elmira Pita Pit put out a donation box on the counter, with the proceeds going towards the Goodwins.
Their children are also well-incorporated into the community, attending Riverside Public School in Elmira. Missie said that many parents of children who go to Riverside PS helped to support the cause.
“It’s crazy how a small town comes together. The support has been absolutely amazing,” said Missie.
The couple said that they have also found solace through Liam Moyer’s family. Liam Moyer is a Grade 11 EDSS student who was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer that affects white blood cells in the bone marrow. As the two families are undergoing similar situations, the Moyer family is helping the Goodwins through this difficult time.
Both BJ and Missie noted that it was the community that really took the initiative.
“Our friends put it together because I didn’t ask for anything. I’m not a greedy person that way,” said BJ. “It felt weird at first, but now it’s nice because Missie is now able to take off and go to the doctor’s with me.”
The story starts back in 2011, when BJ was first diagnosed with a brain tumour after he suffered a stroke at age 27. The MRI showed a spot on his left temporal lobe. Following this, he was sent to a specialist in London when he found out. Because of the tumors small size, the specialist recommended regular MRIs and checkups to observe any growth.
Over the next few years, the tumor slowly grew; in the spring of 2016, the specialist recommended brain surgery. The entire tumor was removed so that chemo and radiation weren’t needed. Life went on as normal until the latest diagnosis – the specialist noticed changes in his MRI in November 2019. He will now need at least 30 treatments to fight the cancer.
Friends have also launched a GoFundMe page to support the family, having raised over $6,000 thus far. It can be accessed online at Go Fund Me.