A fundraising dance this Tuesday evening at the Bridge Lounge has been shifted to benefit YANA and Hope Kopeck, a six-year-old Valley girl diagnosed with a highly threatening nerve tumour.
“We had organized the event to assist the Antunez family make their transition back to Mexico under a departure order,” said Britt Bowman, bassist in the Los Chi-wah-wahs band that will play tonight. “But it turns out that family has already received support.” (An earlier article incorrectly stated the family is leaving under a deportation order.)
“So, rather than cancel, we decided YANA was an obvious choice; they have helped the Antunez family and Hope’s family and many, many others in times of medical crisis.”
The large tumour has wrapped itself around Hope’s aorta and is putting pressure on her esophagus, airway and spinal cord. Since diagnosed in February, she has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy, but the stubborn growth has refused to shrink.
“So now, the top doctors are meeting a week from Thursday to decide if it’s safe enough to do an operation to de-bulk the tumour,” explained Hope’s father, Jason Kopeck.
He is very appreciative of YANA, which has given money the family used for food and gas every trip they’ve had to make to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, plus put them up in an apartment there for two weeks in the initial round of chemo treatments.
“They have been incredibly helpful, so nice,” said Kopeck. “They’ve also give Hope teddy bears, hats, blankets. They have been so supportive.”
“Donating to YANA is like insurance for Comox Valley families,” said the group’s board president, Judy Cryer. “We’re here to help any time families need to travel to access medical treatment for children.”
YANA maintains four apartments in Vancouver, but also financially assists families wherever they have to go to get needed treatment.
One local family has been housed in a YANA apartment since October. A young mother stayed in another apartment for a year, close to her hospitalized child, said Cryer. Already this year, YANA has helped 60 families.
“This sounds like a great time,” said Cryer. “It’s an opportunity to not only have fun but to also feel good about donating to help families in their most distressing times.”
Band blends groove and rock into Latin rhythms
Los Chi-wah-wahs is not a typical rock group. Most of their repertoire is in Spanish, embedded with a Latin groove, setting solid cumbia, salsa and cha-cha-cha rhythms to lead the dancers. But, not surprisingly, there is much more, such as searing electric guitar riffs.
“Think sweet 70s-style Santana sounds as only the starting point,” says Oscar Robles Diaz. “We like to open audiences’ ears to a world of Latino rock that lies beyond that.”
The locally-based band consists of Robles on drum kit and vocals, Jim Papp and Michael ‘Wisconsin’ Johnson on guitars and vocals, with Kelly Thomas on keyboard and Bowman on bass.
The five were members of the late Luzna Orchestra, which made its mark as the Comox Valley’s first Latin-Soul Orchestra, performing regularly on Vancouver Island and appearing in festivals like The Big Time Out.
For more information, check yanacomoxvalley.com.