“We may not be big, but we’re small.” Stuart McLean, Vinyl Cafe

I have always had a penchant for small towns. My mom was from Port Arthur, our summers were spent between Lappi (find that on a map) and Kenora, Lake of the Woods. I’ve lived in Marmora, Oro Station near Orillia, Stephen Leacock’s famous home of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, and I spent two years in the mountain town of Komoro- Shi, Nagano –Ken, Japan. After time in Vancouver and Ottawa, I happily found myself back in small-town country, the Vankleek Hill area. I have enjoyed living here for the past 14 years, but I’ve never felt more a part of the fabric of Vankleek Hill as much as this past month.

You’ve read about Lou Stephenson, our local Zumba instructor extraordinaire and the epic Zumba team fundraiser SCRUBS for the Hawkesbury General Hospital MRI, and the fun “rivalry for the same cause” between Dr. Rossbach and Dr. Richard McCall over waxing and shaving beards.  This was our fundraising catalyst; along with a very generous anonymous donation. Something larger happened too, we all became part of the community buzz.

The Scrubs Doctor’s Ante Up article in The Review had wonderful ripple effects.  One week before the event, there was a fun buzz about SCRUBS that could only be generated by a community newspaper. I was in a local gift shop and the lovely lady there asked me, “Is that your husband trying to save his beard for the MRI?” I laughed, and said “Yes”. Then I went into a Main Street restaurant and someone I know from our local school asked me how the donations were going on behalf of bearded men.  I was also at the local beer company and the woman behind the cash was hoping on behalf of all bearded men that Richard would get to keep his whiskers. Earlier that day, a friend of my husband’s came over to help us with something and the article in The Review had reminded him that he wanted to donate to SAVE MY BEARD.  He laughed and said his in-laws might be supporting Dr. Rossbach so that Richard would have to shave. The day before I was in at bakery comparing notes and having a good laugh with Dr. Rossbach‘s wife, over which one of our husbands will be shaving for the cause.

The next week, my husband and I were in the photography shop and the owner was wondering if the next family photos would be of a bearded or clean shaven fellow.  Getting shaving cream at the local Vankleek Hill Pharmacy for SCRUBS, the lady at the cash said she’d heard all about the two shaving Zumba dancing doctors and thought it was a great fun twist for the cause. She laughed when I told her I might have secretly encouraged folks to support Dr. Rossbach so Richard might have to shave.

Only a well read, well-loved newspaper in a vibrant community could create this kind of buzz.  I thank Louise Sproule and her team for the great articles. It has been wonderful being part of the fabric of Vankleek Hill and surrounding community. SCRUBS ZUMBA MRI fundraiser for HGH was made all the more enjoyable and successful with the great community buzz created by The Review.

Many thanks again to both Louise Sproule, and Louise Stephenson, all of our very kind and generous donors, a special thanks to Dr. Rossbach and his family for being such great sports (and fundraisers) volunteers and everyone who made SCRUBS a close shave for the one of best local events ever.

A most generous $82,000 was raised. The community is certainly buzzing now.

The Zumba MRI fundraiser was one of the most enjoyable fundraisers I’ve ever be a part of, but behind the beards and the Zumba dancing there was a reason this was close to my heart.  A dear family friend, Fred Baldwin (pseudonym) was diagnosed with cancer with the use of an MRI; he most likely lived the extra 11 years because of the early detection.  Sadly, the cancer did eventually take over and while he was in palliative care in Ottawa, one of his friends came to visit, Kamau Chikelu (pseudonym) a refugee from Africa that Fred had helped, along with his Church in Ottawa, sponsor to come to Canada. Fred, unlike Richard, liked to be clean-shaven every day. In palliative care, there wasn’t always time for daily grooming care.  Kamau had arrived with a full shaving kit and I observed the simplest, yet kindest of acts. Kamau gave Fred a shave, while talking and laughing like two long-lost brothers from different continents. It was an act of kindness, and a full circle of care from Kamau who was well settled into life in Canada, giving his sponsor and good friend a shave, and his dignity.

Many thanks again. The MRI will be an important medical diagnostic tool for HGH and our community.

Kate McCall

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. “


kate mccall