Community Comes Out to Help Girl with Cancer

On March 7 many of the residents of Estevan, SK attended the Payton Sernick Cabaret to help raise funds while she undergoes cancer treatments. Darryl Shirley, a member of the fundraising committee, says the event was coordinated by friends of the Sernick family.

As Payton was attending school early last fall, she began to complain of stomach and leg pains, and became so tired after school that her parents, Cheyenne and Andrea, knew something must be wrong. Payton was diagnosed last October after being admitted to Regina General Hospital, which is about two and a half hours from the family’s home.

Cabaret (1)

The Sernick’s were told that Payton had Lymphoma and Leukemia. The doctors had found a tumor by her heart and another wrapping around and squeezing her spine, along with masses in her neck, abdomen and pelvis, and bone marrow cancer at Stage IV.

Payton, now seven-years-old, spent 40 days in the hospital, mostly in isolation rooms, during phase one of her treatment, which sometimes meant five rounds of chemotherapy a day. The family, which also includes Payton’s younger sibling Beckham, relocated to Regina to be with her.

During the school year, her teachers set up a website so Payton and her parents could get her homework back and forth, and they also arranged for a French tutor so that her language skills stayed up to date. Payton also worked with the full time teacher of the cancer ward.

Estevan Lifestyles reported that the 350 tickets for the auction and dinner sold out within six hours, and that about 650 people attended between the auction/dinner and the cabaret part of the evening. Local band Crossroads played, a Dutch auction featured four items valued at $10,000 each and the silent auction boasted over 70 pieces.

Fundraisers used the family’s web page, Facebook, radio, posters, word of mouth and phone calls for promotions. While Payton and her family couldn’t attend, Shirley notes that a true highlight was the slideshow she and her mom made for them. “There was not a dry eye in the house when it was over,” he says.

Shirley has lots of advice for those planning large events. “Start early with a small core group, bringing in others as needed, but only let dedicated people on your committee. If you can find a venue that’s unique it will peak the interest of potential patrons. You won’t have success if you don’t get people to come out.”

How do you pick people for your event planning committees?