Fort Frances resident Anthony Kadikoff was among the 20 Ontario seniors honoured last Wednesday at the 2010 Ontario Senior Achievement Awards at Queen’s Park.
Kadikoff, currently a director on the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation board, has been heavily involved in fundraising for the TBayTel Tamarack House and other cancer care projects over the past six years, and was recognized for dedicating his life to improving the lives of cancer patients in Northwestern Ontario.
“I was surprised in a way . . . I wasn’t really expecting anything,” said Kadikoff, referring to when he learned he was receiving the award.
He noted he’s just putting in his time working for a charity, and certainly “not looking for the glory.”
“I just do the work involved and follow it up. Whatever work [the Foundation] give me to do, I do the best I can,” remarked Kadikoff, adding “it was a nice gesture” for the Foundation to nominate him.
While at Queen’s Park, Kadikoff met Ontario Lt.-Gov. David C. Onley and Sophia Aggelontis, the minister responsible for seniors, and was visited by Rainy River-Kenora MPP Howard Hampton and Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro.
He also got to meet the other award recipients, some of whom were “low-key” like himself and others who were wealthy philanthropists.
“It was nice to meet people from all the different parts of Ontario who had the same thing in mind,” said Kadikoff, chuckling that he met hockey legend Johnny Bower, who told him, “I am here for the award, but not for the Stanley Cup, because I am a Toronto Maple Leaf player.”
Kadikoff, who also is the regional representative for the Elks, spends much of his time on the road travelling between here and Thunder Bay, as well as to Dryden, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, and elsewhere, but says it’s worth it when he sees the good the Foundation does for people.
For example, TBayTel Tamarack House sees 5,300 people stay there each year, saving them plenty of money while providing a home away from home.
Kadikoff recalled he met a couple on the street about two weeks ago. They had stayed at Tamarack House, had seen his name up on the wall as a member of the board, and had to tell him about their stay.
“They said ‘What a beautiful place! It’s fantastic.’ That feedback from the people who are using, it is more important to me than a damn award in Toronto,” he chuckled, adding he asked the province to donate his expenses to Tamarack House in lieu of getting him to Toronto for the award ceremony.
But they told him, “It doesn’t work that way, you know.”
The Foundation, which includes the Northern Cancer Fund, Northern Cardiac Fund, and Health Sciences Discovery Fund, is the only fundraising organization that is dedicated to 100 percent Northwestern Ontario cancer care.
It supports initiatives such as the Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Screening and Assessment, TBayTel Tamarack House, and smoking cessation programs for patients, as well as cancer patient care, education, and awareness.
Michael Power, vice-president of Regional Cancer and Diagnostic Services at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, supported the nomination to see Kadikoff named for the award.
“Few people touch as many lives as profoundly as Anthony,” said Power. “Cancer patients and their families from communities throughout Northwestern Ontario have been impacted by his kindness and generosity.”
Power recalled he first met Kadikoff when his wife, Yvette, was a patient at the Northwestern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre and they were staying at Amethyst House.
Knowing well the positive impact Amethyst House had on Yvette during her care, Kadikoff was quick to accept a role on the committee for the “Home Away From Home” campaign to raise funds for the new TBayTel Tamarack House.
“Anthony was integral to the team that ultimately exceeded their $500,000 goal—by over $100,000,” noted Power.
“The new facility provides a ‘Home Away from Home’ for cancer patients and a caregiver when they are attending appointments and receiving treatment at Regional Cancer Care at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.”
Power said Kadikoff also has been strongly committed to fundraising in support of care initiatives that allow chemotherapy to happen in home communities, including here in Fort Frances.
“These patients and their families travel less and have the comforts of home,” he remarked.
Kadikoff’s commitment to fundraising continued as he joined the Northern Cancer Research Foundation and now the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation board of directors, added Power.
“Northwestern Ontario may be geographically vast but it is truly a community,” he stressed. “Anthony is vital part of that community.
“His efforts extend to nearly all communities in the western part of Northwestern Ontario to reap benefits beyond dollars and cents,” he lauded.
“Anthony’s zeal and genuine compassion for cancer patients and their families reverberates throughout our region. He is quick to offer to drive hundreds of kilometres to make a presentation, attend a meeting, thank a service group for making a donation, or visit a donor.
“The thousands of kilometres and thousands of dollars he has raised are truly inspiring.”
TBayTel Tamarack House resident Judy Tibbs, who knows first-hand how Kadikoff’s kindness affects patients, also supported his nomination.
“Anthony does more than would seem humanly possible throughout the vast region of Northwestern Ontario,” Tibbs wrote in her testimony.
“He works tirelessly and selflessly in support of cancer patients and their families for a region that is nearly the size of France.
“Whether he is delivering information, assisting patients with resources, raising funds, or just generally being a kind person, he puts a personal touch on everything,” she added.
When she was diagnosed with cancer in August, 2009, Tibbs’ brother suggested she get in touch with Kadikoff. But she didn’t even have to make a call before Kadikoff sought her out to share information about cancer and its treatment.
“He helped me access TBayTel Tamarack House—a home away from home located next door to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Regional Cancer Care,” Tibbs wrote.
“TBayTel Tamarack House meant I had a place to stay for doctor’s appointments and treatments after the 350-km drive to Thunder Bay from my hometown of Fort Frances.”
Tibbs said Kadikoff told her of his wife and her journey with cancer, and how they had stayed at Amethyst House during her treatment.
“That experience led to his tireless work on the campaign that built TBayTel Tamarack House, including his donation to name a room in the bright and cheerful space,” she noted.
“He continues to support the Health Science Foundation, especially the Northern Cancer Fund, by volunteering on the board of directors and helping collect donations in support of excellence in health care for Northwestern Ontario.”
Tibbs also said Kadikoff helped her access grant funding. And when she was faced with surgery in a strange city, he helped her family access funding to stay the night and be there for her upon waking.
“He was so supportive—even to the point of visiting me at work to check in and make sure I had the support I needed,” said Tibbs, adding, “Anthony is more than helpful; he is inspiring and genuinely care for others.”
“Anthony keeps hope alive for so many cancer patients and their families,” she concluded. “I am honoured to have been touched by his kindness and commend his efforts to raise funds in hope for a cure.”
The only other senior from this area who was recognized last week was Victor Prokopchuk of Atikokan.
The Senior Achievement Award is the province’s highest recognition for seniors.
It is presented annually to Ontarians over the age of 65 who have made significant contributions to their communities through voluntary or professional activities.