Napkin rings latest fundraising project for Valley cancer patient

Donations have climbed past $38,000 in a campaign to generate $65,000 for Gayle Bates, an affable Comox Valley resident who is battling breast cancer. A self-employed contractor without access to health benefits, Gayle is unable to work as she undergoes radiation and chemotherapy treatments in Victoria.

Koreen Gurak — Gayle’s contract manager at the regional district — and Ralda Leroux have co-ordinated a creative project involving napkin rings and felt in an effort to rejuvenate fundraising efforts. Leroux communicated the idea to her daughter and business partner who operate a felt factory in Nepal. They sourced the felt in New Zealand, had it coloured in Switzerland, and then cut into ‘male and female’ napkin rings at the Nepal factory.

“To think there’s families in Nepal that are secure in their lives for a period of time — and all because somebody cares. It makes the world big and tiny at the same time,” said Gayle.

Gayle is experiencing “new scary challenges and fears,” but she is employing a positive attitude as she literally fights for her life.

“I learned young and it served me well: You choose your attitude every day. I’m finding it’s an important part of this, too.”

She considers her battle to be a journey and an experience, finding there are as many types of the disease — and ways of dealing with it — as there are people.

She travels back and forth to the BC Cancer Agency in Victoria, which she calls an “amazing facility.”

During the lonely and scary moments, Gayle is sustained by memories of people who have given her a hug or shared a wish such as ‘Hang in there.’

More than 300 people have raised $38,253 since the campaign started four months ago. This amount includes a $13,800 contribution from participants at last month’s Bollywood-themed fundraiser at the Filberg Centre.

“It was a time for community building,” Gayle said. “That’s really an important part of who I am. If cancer can be pressed into service to do something good like that, good on it.”

To order ‘felt people’ napkin rings, contact Gurak at Minimum $10 contributions are appreciated for a set of four.

To donate online, visit


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