Big love continues for Bo Cooper

By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

The staff at East Village Pub & Eatery are getting ready to host a pancake breakfast to raise funds for Bo Cooper on February 14. Photo by: DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

The staff at East Village Pub & Eatery are getting ready to host a pancake breakfast to raise funds for Bo Cooper on February 14. Photo by: DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly

Local firefighters are gearing up for a weekend packed of fundraising events for fellow colleague Bo Cooper on February 13 and 14.

With thousands of people touched by the strength in Cooper through his third battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, over $750,000 and counting has been raised from various fundraising initiatives across the province.

“Bo’s been rescuing them and now they are rescuing him,” he said.

President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 165 and Captain of the IAFF Local 2494 Fort McMurray Firefighters Patrick Duggan said the actions of others have been a fantastic turn of events.

“Bo’s been rescuing them and now they are rescuing him,” he said.

Duggan has known Cooper since he first started at the station and describes him as a humble man who was always out in the community taking part in volunteer initiatives.

“I’ve had the good fortune of working with his father – early in our careers – and I’ve known him since he started. He’s a fantastic kid,” Duggan said. “They (the community) talk about how he’s a fighter and this isn’t cliché with Bo. He really does have a good work ethic.”

Two upcoming Valentine’s Day-inspired events include; The Bo Cooper Valentine’s Day Dinner & Dance at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 165 and Pancake Breakfast for Bo at East Village Pub & Eatery.

Organizers from both events are hoping to bring big love in donations to continue the needed fundraising support.

Douglas Brown has been leading the upcoming Valentine’s Day Dinner & Dance at the Legion to be held on Saturday, February 13. Brown said the idea to host it was thought up with fellow members of the Enjoying Fort McMurray Group (a local meet-up group that brings like-minded individuals together).

“If one of my loved ones was in a situation, where their life expectancy was based on a dollar amount, I’d hope others would do the same,” he said.

Brown said he’s never met Cooper, but feels for the pain he, and his family, are going through.

“If one of my loved ones was in a situation, where their life expectancy was based on a dollar amount, I’d hope others would do the same,” he said.

The dinner and dance will be held in the banquet hall (upstairs) and doors open at 6:30 p.m. With raffles, 50/50 draws, games and prizes, Brown said this is an event for everyone aged 18 and over, whether single or coupled.

Local firefighters will be volunteering and taking part in some of the event’s game portions. Games include: a ring toss, where guests can win bottles of wine; a balloon dart game with large stuffed animal for prizes; and a Bachelor/Bachelorette auction, where contestants will run in a relay race and bid on partners.

Brown shared how Duggan and Legion staff have waived the room rental fee and provided a DJ to make the evening an affordable night for residents at $60 per ticket.

(The Legion’s clubhouse – downstairs – will also be holding a Valentine’s Day Dinner & Dance with live entertainment by Kountry Karma. The tickets are $40 for both dinner and dance; and $10 for guests who come after 9 p.m. for the dance portion.)

On February 14, residents of all ages are invited to join the staff at the East Village Pub & Eatery – located at 395 Loutit Road – from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a pancake breakfast.

Owner and Operator of the East Village Pub & Eatery Cheryl Desmeules said she wanted to take part in the help for Cooper’s treatment fund.

“Bo has volunteered his time for fundraisers that we have hosted in the past,” she said. “From our experience, we could always count on Bo to volunteer and show his support. He was always willing to give back to the community and we have the opportunity to give back to him.”

With donations for Cooper being asked at the door, there is no charge for the pancake breakfast. Firefighters will also be taking part in hosting, alongside Desmeules and her staff.

Children are welcomed to the special event and a colouring table will be set up for them to partake. A local face painting artist will also be volunteering her time to add to the family fun.

“We wanted to make this a mix of a Valentine’s Day and Family Day celebration,” she said.

Spokesperson for the Bo Cooper Leukemia Treatment Fund Rob Van Hecke told Connect, “It’s important to continue supporting Bo because he isn’t out of the woods yet.” Van Hecke made an official announcement in a recent news release stating there had been “a few setbacks with Bo’s health in the last week (mid-January), which has delayed the process.

However, today doctors injected his engineered T Cells back into his body… There is still a potential that the CD 22+ is unsuccessful, and we might have to seek out an alternate CD 19+ treatment as a different facility – only time will tell at this point.”

To donate to the Bo Cooper treatment fund, go online to www.gofundme.com/bocooper. Cheques can be sent to the local union office at: ATTN: Bo Cooper, C.O: IAFF Local #2494, P.O. Box 6138, Fort McMurray, AB, T9H 4W1. For updates, visit “Bo Cooper Leukemia Treatment Fund” Facebook page.

– Connect Weekly –