Event honours Beacon student who wanted to change the world
A recent Niagara District Christian Schools soccer tournament commemorated a former student while promoting inclusion and a fun time for 140 Grade 6 pupils who participated.
Mike attended the St. Catharines elementary school and passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer when he was in Grade 6.
“He was the kind of kid who went out of his way to include other people and he also loved soccer, so we thought that was a nice tie-in to run this tournament,” says event organizer Ralph Pot, who is also the school’s vice-principal and Grade 7 teacher.
The participating schools included Beacon Christian Schools, Covenant Christian School in Smithville, John Knox Christian School in Fruitland, Dunnville Christian School, Jarvis District Christian School and Calvin Christian School in Hamilton.
Any Grade 6 student from these six schools was welcome to participate in the Oct. 8 event. Eight multi-school teams were formed, with each team receiving their own colour of t-shirt. One staff member or coach from each school led one of the teams.
Beacon has three mini soccer fields behind the school, which the students played a total of four games on.
“Everyone gets a chance to play, everyone gets a chance to win and it has been quite successful,” says Pot.
The first half hour of the day the students get to know one another, and then they played three games of soccer before breaking for lunch.
After lunch Brian VandenDool, Mike’s father, gave a presentation to the participants about Mike and his vision for helping others.
“That was a pretty moving service,” says Pot.
Mike’s aim was to make a difference in the lives of other children who were sick or on their own cancer journey and their families. While on his own cancer journey, Mike appreciated the kindness of others in his community and wanted to make the road easier for other children.
Mike’s Miracles donates its funds towards organizations such as McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster “Child Life”, Camp Trillium, Help a Child Smile, Rankin Cancer Run, Give Kids the World and Ronald McDonald House.
Proceeds from food and snacks for sale during the event went towards Mike’s Miracles.
The theme for the day and the team cheer is the same theme as Mike’s Miracles — “strong together.”
“It’s about participation and about giving every kid a chance to participate, and also a chance for students to meet students from other schools,” says Pot.
Pot says while he is not sure what changes could happen to the event in future years, other schools that are not affiliated with the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) have expressed interest in participating.