The local community is rallying together to help raise money for a single mom whose son was diagnosed with leukaemia late last year.
Ten-year-old Dakota Cunningham was diagnosed with t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November after his daycare worker found a lump on the side of his neck.
“It happened so quickly. Back in September, he was playing soccer and doing all those activities. He didn’t look sick,” said his mother Jaclyn Ellis, who moved from Kamloops to Victoria about a year and a half ago.
“At the Boys and Girls Club, the sun hit his neck the right way and the daycare lady pointed it out to me. I watched over it for two weeks and then one lump grew into four lumps quickly.”
Just a few days later, Dakota was diagnosed and was sent to B.C.’s Children’s Hospital.
“I fell on the ground when I found out, it was really hard,” said Ellis. “Since then, it’s all a process – what are the next steps, what can you do to help him.”
Dakota has been spending one week in Vancouver and another in Victoria for treatment, even celebrating his 10th birthday in hospital, while his mother had to leave her job to care for him.
Over the last six months, a family friend has been slowly raising money through weekly bake sales, bottle drives, online donations and most recently, raffling off a pair of Vancouver Canucks tickets to help the family pay their bills.
“We’re just trying to get money coming in so she can keep a roof over her head,” said Sarah Chan. “[Dakota] is pretty funny, he’s pretty mature for his age, he’s got a wild sense of humour and a great playful character.”
So far, Chan has raised just over $3,000, but hopes to increase that amount to $8,000 with a garage sale and bottle drive this Saturday.
“It takes a community to uphold and embrace each other in times of need like this. It’s important to reach out to the community and see if they can help,” she said.
The garage sale takes place on April 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vic West elementary school.
People can also donate online at gofundme.com/teamdakota.