Winnipeg a big city with a huge heart

Well I was going to baffle you all with a April Fools day post today but circumstances this week have turned my attention to something else entirely.

This week two things happened in Winnipeg, we lost one of our own to cancer and we came together and rallied as a community should.  On Monday you could practically hear the city gasp as life slipped away from Alanna Hogue Aiello.  Now I will say from the start that I did not personally know her but to say that I was not acquainted with her would also not be correct.

Confusing I know, but in Winnipeg everyone knows everyone else somehow.  Yes, it’s a city.  But it’s got a small town attitude, when you need something done, you don’t look in the yellow pages, cause your friends know a guy, or you know a guy.  Like neighbourhoods back when we were kids, people are tight here.  When someone gets married the call goes out.  People will start asking, when is their social?  I can’t wait for the silent auctions!  I hope I win!  ( Manitoba socials are large parties held in community halls where family and extended groups of friends spend large amounts of money on raffles and dance drunkenly to Mony Mony while eating cubed cheese with rye bread.)

Alana worked for many years in the local television business, and was married very happily to her husband Joe Aiello, local morning disc jockey on 92 Citi fm.   Together through thick and thin they never turned away anyone in need.  If you had a charity or an event that needed promotion you could be sure that they would support the cause in any way that they could.  Such was the love that they shared with Winnipeg.

When Alanna lost her long battle with against cancer this week, as I mentioned you could almost hear the city gasp. In unison we all cried out “Oh No”.   She had been sick for many years but she fought bravely and with great dignity.

It was then that the crew at 92 Citi picked up the torch and the rest of Winnipeg followed.  Wednesday morning at 8 am they started a radio-thon that lasted a day and a half.  In Jerry Lewis style they defied sleep and hunger to get the word out to the city and the world, and we answered.

Eff U Cancer in memory of Alanna

For a minimum donation of 50 dollars you could dedicate a song to the memory of Alanna.  The list grew and grew and grew.  Kathy Kennedy, news anchor read a touching poem, in sadness and anger proclaiming “Eff U Cancer!”  Thus a  t-shirt was born, from her grief and rage against this heartless killer.  Like the song requests, the shirts were printed en masse and sold out, not once or twice but again and again and yet again.  Still the stores are stocked and the shirts vanish within minutes.

Winnipeg the little city that cried, and raged against this horrible monster managed to raise close to $120,000 dollars.  Fifty dollar donations were taken by the handful, citizens stepped up with memories of their loved ones and donated by the thousands.  Pay cheques and musical instruments were gifted.  People such as I bought “Eff U T-Shirts” in bulk.

Eff U Cancer T-Shirt

It may just be a drop in the bucket and life will go on, but for two days the city, my city, gave back to someone who had given all of us so much.  We remembered our own losses, I toasted the remembrance of my brother, Brent struck down by cancer.  I rejoice in my daughter’s ongoing victory over her leukemia.

We all stopped, we all cared, and we all gave.

Today Alanna’s life was celebrated in a service, I was not there but I know people who were.  That’s just the way Winnipeg is.

Authors note: Donations are still being accepted in Alanna’s name through 92 Citi fm.  “Eff U” shirts are still on sale at all Winnipeg Marks locations for only 20 dollars.  100% of  donations go to Cancer Care Manitoba.

11 responses to “Winnipeg a big city with a huge heart

  1. Wow. Seems like Winnipeg really knows how to take care of their own. Brilliant rally! And yes… eff cancer!

    • Wow that was fast, the ink is barely dry. Thanks for the comment, please pass it along.

      Winnipeg is a big enough city to get lost in but it’s still small enough that it feels like a small town. Weird in a great way.

  2. That’s quite an amazing story- Winnipeg is big enough to where I wouldn’t expect that small town feel. Nice folk there.

    • You hit it right on the head AA. Winnipeg currently has a population of around 6-7 hundred thousand people. But I guess due to our geography and weather it feels isolated for a good part of the year. Thus we rely on each other to get through the tough times like winter and tragedy.

      We have been known as a town that rallies around a cause. We open our wallets disproportionately wide for a city this size. As I said we all seem to know each other somehow. Everyone has “A Guy” that fixes things or knows about the best deal on a car, computer or whatever. So it’s very much like a small town in that regard.

      Also as I said Joe, is known throughout Winnipeg as a guy who never ever turns anyone in need away. He’ll DJ your event or be the guest speaker or just ramble on and on about it on the radio. To the best of my knowledge he never asks for anything in return.

      I think this is just the city showing him that we appreciate what he and his family (both real and radio) have done for the community. He is reaping what he has sewn.

      It makes me proud to be a Winnipegger on days like these, it just is hard that we had to lose such a great lady in the process.

  3. What can one say except cancer sucks. 😦 But good too see your support for the cause against cancer.

    • Well as I stated above Rincewind I have close personal reasons for my support as I expect everyone does. I can’t think of a single person that hasn’t been touched by this horrible disease in some way.

      My end is really only a few bucks, in the big picture it means very little in the fight. But as they say every dollar counts.

  4. Way to go Winnipeg!!!! Didn’t ever hear any exact figures till now. I tried to get a song on for Joe (they couldn’t dig up Shine Your Light by Robbie Robertson!, go figure), but left the money anyhow and bought a t-shirt as well. I’m sure Alanna is smiling down on him and we are short an angel walking among us. She was apparently quite a fantastic lady.
    Keep in mind all of that money stays here in Manitoba and goes to Cancer Care Manitoba…you’ve witnessed first hand the good they do there.

    • Yes you know I have Sue. Jeff P. and I were comparing notes during the Radio-thon and couldn’t believe the response. I had even heard that one guy called in and had been saving up for the last few years to by a Harley Davidson. Some 22 grand apparently went into the pot from him. It was so much that Tom was actually trying to talk the guy out of it.

      If that amount did actually get donated I bet he can expect some love from Lone Star Harley Davidson and Citi fm. Maybe in the way of a special edition bike or something? Ya never know, Joe is going to want to pay people back when he comes back to work.

      Thanks for popping in you know you’re always welcome and I do like reading your comments.

  5. I didn’t know you had a daughter. Hope she continues to stay well

    • Yes I do indeed have a not so little girl. She’s 13 and too much like her dad for her own good.

      She got diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the tender age of 5, and spent the better part of 5 years fighting it. So between her and my brother dying from Lymphoma I’ve seen more than my fair share of the disease.

      My daughter thankfully has a fighting spirit and even through all of the tears and pain that treatment brings never gave up hope. My ex, her mom knew something was up when she stated getting terrible headaches and sick all the time, she insisted that the hospital run tests. We feared meningitis had sicked her, but when the white blood cell counts came back we were dealing with another beast entirely.

      The fight started that next day, there was no waiting for options or second opinions. We all put our personal lives on hold. PERIOD.
      Doing what ever needed to be done for her welfare.

      She is doing incredibly well now and has been in remission for quite some time now. We are re-assured by her regular check-ups that she is doing fine.

      So you see a couple of bucks for the right charity can really make a difference. I know it did in our lives.

      Thanks for stopping by Nurse Myra, you’re always welcome here.

  6. Winnipeg is big not a small city
    Many people lol, think that it has a small city feeling maybe or not i don’t believe in these things but
    Winnipeg is over 850,000 people for 2012 and Metro Population 943,000
    it has proof and plus winnipeg has a very good skyline view now.

    Ah, Houston we got a big city announced name winnipeg
    I love this blog though
    God bless to all