Meet our July Star: Joanne McVeigh

Three Stars Presented by Lawrie Insurance Group

Joanne submitted her story of positivity for the #HockeyVacciNation campaign to recognize her hockey teammates for their support in her journey with breast cancer. Diagnosed at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, these individuals showed that they were more than just teammates. We chatted with Joanne to learn more about her selection and what this has meant. Congratulations, Joanne!

VOTE FOR JOANNE! – Ends Friday, September 24

Answers edited for length and clarity

How did you enter to be a part of the #HockeyVacciNation campaign?

I had received an email from CARHA Hockey. One evening while I couldn’t sleep I decided to check my inbox and learned about the campaign. It was 2 am and I thought I have an inspiring story and started writing. I told my husband after that this is perfect, it’s all positive.

View Story Submission.

What charity/organization have you selected for your donation?

I had a difficult time trying to decide where to contribute the donation and you don’t have to spend much time on social media to recognize that there are countless organizations, people, groups and charities who are in dire need of funding.

Not only did the community of Renfrew come to my rescue at a difficult time in my life that could have been so much worse, I also spent my adolescence and young adulthood in the town of Renfrew, Ontario, where my Mom was a tireless worker for many local charities.

One of her crowning achievements was the 1985 founding of the Friends of the Disabled (Renfrew) and the setting up of accessible transportation for those who were unable to use conventional vehicles. Sunshine Coach was born and has been providing such transport for local communities for over three decades.

So, in loving memory of my Mom, the community she loved so much and to offer a small token of my appreciation for the community of Renfrew, I have chosen the recipient of the monies awarded to be given to “Friends of the Disabled” Sunshine Coach service.

Sunshine Coach is registered as a not-for-profit (NFP) endeavour operated under Friends of the Disabled (Renfrew) Inc.  Sunshine Coach conducts in excess of thirty-six thousand trips annually for people within our service area who are living with disabilities that present transportation barriers in their lives.  The costs of providing this service exceeds the fares that are charged to our clients. It is essential that fares be held at the minimum since our clientele are, for the most part, among the most economically vulnerable in our community. The gap between fares and costs has always been made up through the fundraising efforts of Friends of the Disabled (Renfrew) Inc.

What did it mean to you to have that support and have your teammates rally behind you?

It meant everything. I never felt alone. I’ve talked to other people who have gone through similar things and people are there for them in the beginning but in my case, that support didn’t end. Five months down the road when I was in the thick of it, I was still receiving texts checking in and letting me know they were thinking of me and everyone was there for me.

I don’t know how to put it in words. They stayed. All through COVID, these women were going through their own trials and they still managed to reach out and do a lot of nice things for me.

This is one of the big reasons I encourage my children to be a part of sports, any sport they like. It’s a community in itself. These were my teammates from over the past 12 years.

How long have you played hockey?

I started at age nine as the only girl on the team with the deal that I could play if my father would coach. That worked out well and I continued to play then switched to ringette for a few years. About 12 or 13 years ago I got back into hockey.

Are there any others you’d like to take the opportunity to thank?

My family and friends. All the medical staff. Hats off to them, working through COVID. I have never experienced so much kindness. I was pleasantly surprised. I never came across anybody who wasn’t so kind through all my treatment. While it was awful and one of the worst things I’ve gone through in my life, it was one of the most beautiful experiences that I’ve had interacting with people. I wasn’t the only person going through treatment and they remained so kind and compassionate.

You don’t realize how much you need people until you really need them.

How will the $500 donation be used?

During the pandemic, sources of funding have been curtailed and, as such, the ability of Friends of the Disabled (Renfrew) Inc to provide operational subsidies to Sunshine Coach has been affected. To receive a donation under the CARHA Hockey campaign would represent an incredibly welcome windfall that would aid us to a great extent in continuing to provide this essential service to all of the communities we serve.

What does it mean for you to be a finalist for the $10,000 grand prize?

It’s really exciting. It’s really nice to have something so positive going on in my life and great to be involved with other people, like the nominees. We’re all doing something positive and uplifting. Why not take part when it can benefit something that is close to my heart and is a great way to help a lot of people.

The four teams Joanne has been a part of over the last 12 years that supported her and her family.

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