Emma Smith

‘Moving Mountains’ hike to raise money for cancer families

This year's hike in memory of founder's late nephew

Shane Flamand is ‘Moving Mountains’ for the second time this November, in memory of his nephew Zack Downey, and to support two families affected by cancer.

He and a group of hikers are gathering supporters and donations before they dig their heels in and hike the three tallest mountains in Victoria, starting with Mount Finlayson, then Jocelyn Hill and Mt. Work.

The eight-hour fundraising hike began last year as a way for Flamand to raise money to help his sister and her family as Zack underwent treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Zack, who badly wanted to hike with his uncle this year, sadly passed away in May. “This is fully in memory of him,” Flamand says. “(Zack) had full hopes of doing it this year when he was better.”

The group is hoping to at least match last year’s total of $7,000 raised.

This time the money will go toward two young girls: Alissa McCrea and Emma Smith.

Alissa’s mother, Juanita McCrea was an employee of Thrifty’s on the mainland and a single mother when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer in August. The disease spread rapidly and McCrea passed away on Oct. 22, leaving her six-year-old daughter in the care of her brother on Vancouver Island.

Emma Smith was diagnosed with spinal cancer on Oct. 1, two years to the day after her oncologists found a brain tumour in 2012. The brain tumour was successfully treated and was gone by August 2013, but a case of meningitis that hospitalized the 11-year-old this summer led to tests that confirmed the cancer had reappeared in her spine. She’s undergone a short course of radiation and is waiting to start chemotherapy.

“There are some big adjustments to be made, and once again the financial reality of not being able to work will put a huge strain on the family,” says Emma’s dad, Darrell Smith.

While a summertime hike might make more sense to some, Flamand’s happy to have ‘Moving Mountains’ occur in late fall.

“It just seems fitting to do it at this time of year. The biggest thing is to be able to give (the families) a cheque within a month of Christmas.”

“I’d actually like to see some harsher conditions,” he says of the hike.

“The tougher the challenge, the more rewarding it’ll be. Just knowing what these kids are going through. They’re fighting an uphill battle all the time.”

Everyone is welcome to come along, no registration required. There will plenty of experienced hikers in the group, so the biggest requirement is endurance, says Flamand.

“Mt. Finlayson is difficult, but we get that done first. As long as they’re physically fit enough that they’re comfortable doing Finlayson, they’ll be fine the rest of the way.”

The funds raised will be split between the two families to help alleviate the financial burden of travel, treatment costs and lost work, and all of it done in memory of Zack, Flamand says.

“It’s important that his name’s attached when we help other families. We want to make sure he leaves a legacy.”

The hikers are meeting at Willway elementary, 2939 Mt. Wells Dr. in Langford, at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Donations can be made at any TD Canada Trust, to the account number 99195215472, under the name Moving Mountains.

For more information, call Flamand at 250-391-4097 or visit bcmovingmountains.wordpress.com.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com