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Team Autumn raises funds and awareness about rare form of cancer

'We’re not going to let the cancer win and we need to continue this fight for however long it takes'

SickKids, Make-A-Wish and Canadian Blood Services have all been a part of Autumn's journey, and now the Dovick family of Guelph is giving back.

Autumn has metastatic neuroblastoma, a rare cancer which affects the nervous system.

The Guelph community first heard about Autumn last October and helped Autumn's mother Sarah and stepfather Karl in their search for a wedding venue so Autumn could be a part of their big day while she was still in good health. The wedding was hastily put together in six weeks after the family received news Autumn only had a couple months to live because she wasn't responding to treatments.

Now Autumn’s white blood cell count is the same as any other five-year-old child. The only difference between her and other children is she is still battling cancer and has been for the last 16 months.

“The doctors are just marvelled because they figured by this time her health would be deteriorating and she’s just doing really well. The cancer is status quo. There hasn’t been more cells but no more have gone away. And I mean we haven’t done treatment since October,” said Sarah Dovick.

Since then she has been keeping well. She attended her mother and stepfather’s wedding in December. She was the star of the show. The flower girl.

A wedding, a birthday and a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World are all what Autumn has experienced since turning five last September.

In lieu of gifts at Sarah and Karl’s wedding they asked guests to make a donation to SickKids. The total of how much they raised is unknown but they received one anonymous donation of $2,000.

“This again is another example of how above and beyond the community goes and what they’re willing to do for even people they’ve never met before,” said Karl Dovick.

The family keep giving back to SickKids and are starting their own charity page called Team Autumn. The website is up and running but is waiting for the merchandise page to be launched.

The plan is to sell merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies, and headbands in the colours of purple and gold, the same colours representing neuroblastoma, the form of cancer Autumn is battling. 

The logo will read ‘Team Autumn’ and ‘fighting until children knockout cancer’.

The name is twofold “we’re all supporting Autumn and we’re behind her a hundred per cent and we are on her team. But it’s also for our community as well. It feels like we have the whole community on our team too,” said Autumn's mother.

On the website there will be a direct link to the SickKids page for money to be donated to the neuroblastoma research team at SickKids.

Karl made a call out on the Overheard at Guelph Facebook page asking people if they know of a local company to help with producing the merchandise. 

“Now that we are in a stable situation, mentally. And the wedding is over and we’ve kind of had time to breathe. It would be nice to meet the community members that have already given so much but also expressed so much interest and been so helpful even just online,” said Sarah.

In the future the family hopes to hosts events to raise money for SickKids and it will be a way for them to meet the community who has been helping them on their journey.

Neuroblastoma is a word most people haven't heard before and there are so many forgotten cancers because they are, for a lack of a better word, not popular, said Autumn's mother. 

She wants there to be more awareness about neuroblastoma so more funding goes towards it.

There isn’t a set fundraising goal but it would be nice to raise at least $50,000 this way Autumn's name would be on a plaque in the main hallway at the hospital, said Karl.

“We wanted to be able to honour Autumn’s name and legacy and her battle. Keep that going and keep the fight going and never letting it go,” said Karl.

What inspired them to fundraise and start Team Autumn was Team Addy. Team Addy raised money for SickKids in support of sarcoma cancer research. Addison Hill, from Elora, had sarcoma cancer which is a rare cancer. Autumn and Addison met while they were on the same floor at SickKids. The girls and their families have become friends ever since. Addison passed away July 10, 2022.

“I feel like we can do it too alongside them,” said Sarah.

“We’re not going to let the cancer win and we need to continue this fight for however long it takes,” said Karl.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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