On Friday, Arlene Mckellar, owner of Garage Ding’s and well-known community supporter, turned her own personal experience with cancer into a fundraising event for the Brome-missisquoi Perkins Hospital oncology department. Mckellar, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, wanted to give back to the medicalteam and the community that have been supporting her throughout her journey. Confidently rocking her new buzz cut, with her hair going towards a children’s wig, a donation jar has been set up at Ding’s, along with a Go Fund Me campaign organized by Mckellar with a goal to raise $2,500 for the Foundation.
Rather than simply contribute to the Foundation’s annual Cancer Walk, Mckellar wanted to make a more personal contribution so decided to organize a Gofundme to get it out there,” said Mckellar.
Mckellar had surgery to remove a tumour discovered Easter weekend and is starting chemotherapy treatments. “Cancer is a scary word, but I lucked out because it seems I got the best of a bad situation.”
When her oncologist told her that losing her hair was inevitable, Mckellar decided to organize a fundraising event. “I thought that since I would lose my hair, I may as well shave my head, raise money for a good cause, make the best of everything and keep positive.”
With hairdresser Christina Bushey on site, Mckellar, along with her husband, head mechanic at the couple’s garage, their six-year-old adopted grandson, and other members of the community by her side for support, she received her first buzz cut with some of the hair going towards children’s wigs. “The hair has to be at least eight inches long to be donated. It can be color treated, it doesn’t matter; at one time they did refuse.”
Another 10 people got a haircut in solidarity with Mckellar. “It’s nice, it makes me feel really proud. I was surprised to see how many people came to get their hair cut.”
Community members came together to provide refreshments, cookies, and cupcakes with pink icing and Amalgamated Industries, located in Knowlton, provided free pink hair paint in support of the cause. “They whipped up a batch of pink hair paint just for me and my fundraiser to give away. It’s temporary, so you can put it in your hair and it washes out.”
Mckellar emphasized that the medical team, staff, nurses, and technicians that have been working with her at BMP Hospital have explained every detail of her treatment throughout the process and it was important for her to support their work. “The money is going to go back to the BMP Foundation but it’s dubbed for the oncology department.”
To help raise money, she has set up a donation jar at Ding’s, as well as the Gofundme, or people can donate to the BMP Foundation directly. “Some people want a tax receipt so they are donating to the BMP Foundation for the oncology department, giving my email address and my name, so they will send me an email letting me know.”
Her goal is to raise $2,500 and after Friday’s fundraiser she already raised a total of around $2,400. The campaign will continue for the next few months.
To support the fundraiser, you can donate to the Gofundme at https://www. gofundme.com/f/fundraiser-for-thebmp-oncology-dept?utm_campaign=p_ lico+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_ link&utm_source=customer, or to the donation jar at Ding’s located at 510 Knowlton Road.