Friends rejuvenate fundraising efforts

Donations have climbed past $38,000 in an online campaign to generate $65,000 for Gayle Bates.

Gayle Bates is pictured with her son Jackson Tegu at the Victoria B.C. Cancer Agency chemo room.

Gayle Bates is pictured with her son Jackson Tegu at the Victoria B.C. Cancer Agency chemo room.

Donations have climbed past $38,000 in an online 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 in turn sourced the felt in New Zealand, had it colored in Switzerland, and then cut into ‘male and female’ napkin rings at the Nepal factory. Workers cut 700 ‘male’ napkin rings, and 350 ivory and 350 pink napkin rings, both ‘female,’ which were sent to the Comox Valley.

“It said so much about what my role was with the regional district: waste reduction and getting together,” Gayle said. “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.”

Gayle has taught waste reduction classes through the CVRD. She is also known for emceeing events such as the Child Development Centre Telethon and for instructing a Worldhost Customer Service training program.

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.

“I wear frozen gloves in chemo now. Who would have thought?”

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.”

On another positive note, Gayle’s daughter, Ashley Hoffart, gave birth to a baby girl April 26.

“She was going through an amazing metamorphosis herself,” said Gayle, who has two other grandchildren. “Hers was creating life and mine is trying to create death. She has life at the end of her metamorphosis. And I want to have a life, too.”

To order ‘felt people’ napkin rings, contact Gurak at Minimum $10 contributions are appreciated for a set of four. Money will help Gayle, and also contribute to the financial well-being of a felt factory in Nepal.

To donate online, visit

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