Saanich mother’s 1,000 cranes fundraiser takes flight

Raising stem cell donor awareness key

Rick Stiebel

News Gazette

A mother’s fundraising efforts based on a Japanese story of wishes granted on the wings of cranes is taking flight across the province.

Saanich resident Alison Lockhart’s daughter, Amy Lee Croft, has been in the battle of her life since she was diagnosed with leukemia in the emergency ward at Victoria General Hospital on March 8. She was airlifted two hours later to the leukemia ward in Vancouver General Hospital and began treatments that evening. Croft, 32, spent the next six weeks in hospital dealing with Acute Lymphblastic Leukemia. Although Croft and her husband, Joshua, had just bought a home in Langford, the couple have to rent a suite in Vancouver while she receives treatment for the next nine months.

Lockhart launched a fundraiser she named 1,000 Cranes for Amy, based on a story about Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who contracted leukemia as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during the Second World War. Sasaki started folding cranes in the hopes of regaining her health, Lockhart explained. “Sadly, she passed away at the age of 12.”

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“It was said that anyone who folds 1,000 cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. It’s long been a symbol of peace and longevity, with the folding of 1,000 cranes seen as an expression of hope, goodwill and peace for mankind,” Lockhart explained during a visit with her daughter last week. It was their first time together since Nov. 7 because of precautions taken during Croft’s treatment. “She’s doing better than expected at this point and we’re really excited about that.”

When she was 16 and living in Japan as an exchange student, a group of five Japanese elementary students presented Lockhart with 1,000 origami cranes they had folded and strung on thread.

“When Amy got sick I wanted to recreate this by asking friends and family to donate to a Facebook fundraiser and message me a note or well wish for Amy that I could transcribe onto origami paper after she had read them,” she said. “I want Amy to read all these beautiful well-wishes and know that she is loved and that people, some she has never met, care about her and are thinking about her.”

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In addition to the couple’s financial strain caused by renting in Vancouver, some of the medications Amy requires are expensive, and not covered by their medical plan. The response has been overwhelming and from many parts of the province, Lockhart said, including cranes from children at an elementary school in Vancouver. “I’m trying to do as many as I can,” Lockhart said. “I’m up to 150 so far. Sometimes it’s hard to have hope, but this has really helped. The personal stories and the way people have reached out to us during this terrible time is really amazing.”

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Another critical element of Lockhart’s efforts involves her determination to spread the word about the importance of registering as a stem cell donor. “My daughter was lucky and had a match for two positive donors, but there’s a real need especially people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. My daughter told me about a three-year-old girl who died on the wait list because her parents were mixed race and they couldn’t find a donor. It’s such a simple procedure,, nothing like a bone marrow transplant. Blood Services Canada or One Match send you a kit, you take a swab and become part of a worldwide donor bank.”

Lockhart also gave blood for the first time the day after her daughter’s diagnosis, and underlined the importance of that as well. “If you are too old to be a stem cell donor, consider becoming a blood donor and be someone’s hero.”

Visit Lockhart’s Facebook page at 1,000 Origami Cranes for Amy Lee to make a donation.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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Saanich resident Alison Lockhart has started a fundraiser to assist with expenses incurred while her daughter, Amy Lee Croft, undergoes treatment in Vancouver. (Photo contributed) Saanich resident Alison Lockhart has started a fundraiser to assist with expenses incurred while her daughter, Amy Lee Croft, undergoes treatment in Vancouver. (Photo contributed)

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