When 11-year-old Sydney Drover found out her mom’s friend’s son had cancer, she was so saddened by his story that she asked if she could hold a bake sale to raise money for him.
On Sept. 16, Drover put on that bake sale, and then this weekend she had a second one. Between the two, she raised $2,068 for Nick Hurst, 11, a little boy in Edmonton she’s never even met.
It started about a month ago when Sydney’s mom Courtney Shaver was connecting over the internet and phone with her old Central Algoma Secondary School best friend Hanna Rydall, who left the area years ago and now lives in Edmonton.
As the two discussed where each other were in their lives, it was brought up that Rydall’s son Nick was six months into an incredibly difficult struggle with acute-lymphoblastic leukemia.
While battling this cancer, Nick has had a seizure, bad reactions to chemotherapy, an infection that kept him at the Edmonton children’s hospital for six weeks, and missed the last half of his Grade 5 year.
After Shaver spoke with Rydall, she told her daughter Sydney about Nick’s situation.
Sydney was moved by what she heard.
“I knew Nick was struggling with it and that he had his childhood taken away from him for a while so I wanted to help him out with it,” said Sydney.
Earlier in the summer, Sydney saw a girl at a campground holding a bake sale for some other charity and she told her mom she wanted to do the same thing for Nick.
So on Saturday, Sept. 16, Sydney put up posters and held ‘Sydney’s Super Bake Sale’ in the driveway of her home on Varsity Avenue.
Just by selling banana bread, brownies, cupcakes, and muffins, that bake sale raised $668 for Nick.
Sydney’s friend Nicole, 11, and her mom Rosa Stang, saw what Sydney was doing and wanted to get in on the action.
Stang works at Superior Bakery, and with donations from there and a whole week of baking with her daughter, they held a second bake sale — 'Nicole's and Sydney's Super Bake Sale' on Lewis Avenue on Saturday.
That one was even bigger.
Word got around and the bake sale was more successful than any of them could imagine.
Within an hour they sold out of every baked good and had to go out and buy more to keep the supply up as hundreds of people showed up — at no other time was it was ever so difficult to find a street parking spot on Lewis Avenue.
That bake sale brought in $1,400.
The actual total will be more because they still haven’t counted the coins, said Shaver.
Sault Ste. Marie Police Service showed up and gave the girls a donation and armfuls of teddy bears.
The Soo Greyhounds came out and, besides their donation, gave them tickets to Sunday afternoon’s game against the London Knights.
“It’s just amazing to me,” said Shaver, astonished at the local turnout to the bake sale. “It really sets a different tone for the whole city for me. We’re very emotional about it and we don’t know what to say.”
Last week after the first bake sale, Sydney spoke to Nick for the first time on the phone.
“I asked him questions about what it was like (to have cancer),” said Sydney, describing the phone call. “He’s said he’s very glad I did this for him and that we both hope we can be really good friends one day. Then we both didn’t know what to say because we were so happy.”
Nick and his mom asked if they could donate the raised money to the Cancer Research Society, but Sydney insisted it was for him to use to have fun with, to try and make up for the last six months.
“I never met this little girl… but she’s adorable. She raised all this money for Nick and I’ve never met her. I don’t know how to thank her, she just an awesome kid,” said Rydall.
Nick said when he first found out about Sydney’s efforts, he thought it was a nice small gesture.
“At at first I thought ‘wow — that’s really nice’ but then things got bigger (with the first bake sale) and it turned out to be a huge success with lots of money and stuff sold. I had no idea that was going to happen,” said Nick “Then she does this — a second one. I’m just really shocked.”
Nick still has a battle ahead of him.
For the next three years he will have to have chemotherapy once a month and each time that happens he can get sick, vomit, and just can’t be himself, said Rydall, who is nevertheless extremely hopeful of the situation and expects her son to be back in school full time in January.
“He’s responding really well to treatment. His doctors said he had a 90 per cent chance of full recovery,” she said.
So, the big question is, what is Nick going to do with all that money?
Since he’s forced to spend it on himself, and since it’s such a large amount of money, Nick said he had to think long and hard and had many conversations with his parents about what to do with it.
What Nick and his parents have decided is that, since he also has family in the Sault, they will use the money towards plane tickets and then Nick can meet Sydney for the first time, and thank her in person.
“He can’t travel quite yet, but maybe in January we can make that happen for him,” said his mom.