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.
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.
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.