The Seeburger family tree at SEAPARC is in memory of Kevin

Festival of Trees is about kids

One family pays tribute to family member by decorating tree

Every year at Christmas time, the Seeburger family sponsors and decorates a SEAPARC tree with Lego in honour of their son, Kevin Michael Seeburger.

The Sooke Festival of Trees, hosted at SEAPARC, serves as a fundraiser for the BC Children’s hospital, and the Seeburger family spent a lot of time there.

Kevin was born on September 30, 1993. In July, 1998, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, when he was only four years old. After three years of treatment, he had a testicular relapse, and then continued on maintenance treatment until he was nine-and-a-half years old. Then, after being off treatment for a half year, now 10 years old, Kevin had a bone marrow relapse and he required a transplant. After 100 days in the hospital, he returned home and kick-started his life as a kid. But it was short lived. In May, 2005, the Leukemia had returned and had a stem cell transplant done. Both the transplants were provided by his brother Ryan. By August, Kevin’s cancer was deemed terminal and he was given a few weeks left to live. He surprised them all, hanging on for months instead of weeks. And on November 9, 2005, Kevin lost his battle.

Kevin’s mother, Tara, said for the first two rounds of treatment, they periodically went to BC Hospital for treatment, and were able to return home to Vancouver Island for maintenance. However, by the third round, “It really became our home while we were over there,” she recalled.

The oncology ward was different than the rest of the hospital. Tara said that it was less clinical in appearance, and their approach included the family. It makes a difference when you are there for 200 days in a row, said Tara. It was inclusive and welcoming.

For four years, the Seeburger family has been decorating a tree in Kevin’s memory. They got the idea when walking through the Empress  Hotel one day, where they saw a memorial tree. And every year, the entire family comes out to decorate the tree with mementos of Kevin, and with Lego.

Why Lego? As described on the tree, Lego “was a big part of Kevin’s life. He was always on the look out for the next big one to complete. He did planes, cars, destroyers, tanks, helicopters and the biggest one he did was a crane that moved with hydraulics. I think he loved Lego so much because in a life full of uncertainty, he always knew that there was only one way to put the Lego pieces together if you wanted to finish the project.”

All the funds raised go towards the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

To put it into perspective, event coordinator Elizabeth Olsen, said last year alone there were 209 children from Sooke who required the services from the BC Children’s Hospital.

For Tara, it’s important to stay focused on the deeper issue, supporting the BC Children’s Hospital. This tree helps them do that, and she hopes it will encourage others to look deeper too.

The fifth annual Festival of Trees runs until January 3, 2014.