Volunteer profile: Janet Delsey


[img_inline align=”right” src=”http://padnws01.mcmaster.ca/images/JanAvery09.jpg” caption=”Janet Delsey, a supervisor in the Faculty of Engineering’s DocuCentre, and Avery Williams. Photo courtesy of Delsey.”]When Janet Delsey met four-year-old Avery Williams while vacationing in Punta Cana in 2002, she was immediately struck by the courage and strength in the young girl.

At the age of three months, the Stoney Creek resident was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare childhood eye cancer that is fatal if not diagnosed early and treated appropriately. By the age of three Williams had already undergone nine cycles of chemotherapy combined with laser (heat) and cryo (freezing) therapy to fight the tumors in her eyes. Despite the best efforts of her medical team however, Williams' left eye required enucleation in 2001.

When Delsey returned home she knew she had to help. Williams' mother Ericka had begun a series of fundraisers in an effort to help others recognize the symptoms of retinoblastoma, so Delsey called her and offered to help. She has been with Avery's Journey ever since.

“She's just the sweetest girl,” said Delsey, a supervisor in the Faculty of Engineering's DocuCentre. “Even at the age of 11 she's a model for us all.”

Delsey has been with Avery's Journey since 2003, helping to organize fundraisers that benefit the Hospital for Sick Children Foundation, retinoblastoma cancer research and Avery's education plan. Since 2001 the events have raised nearly $55,000.

“When you meet a girl like her, you can't help but feel the need to do something,” said Delsey.

In addition to organizing the Avery's Journey fundraisers, Delsey also designed the organization's web site, which serves as a platform to educate and raise awareness about retinoblastoma cancer.

“Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment,” says Delsey, “and being part of a team of people with such strength and commitment is inspiring.”

The next Avery's Journey fundraiser, “Celebration of Life,” is a dinner buffet and dance scheduled for Friday, May 1. More information is available at http://averysjourney.ca.