Young volunteer recognized

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

In 2011, Sandra McNay and her daughter Samantha Halliday were at the Relay For Life to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society — McNay’s brother and Halliday’s uncle, Robert, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier that year.

McNay said the event was supposed to be all night. But around 5 a.m., she received a call from the hospital saying she needed to come see her brother.

That night, Robert died at the age of 45.

His niece, Halliday, was 6.

“He was my best friend growing up,” says Halliday. “We did everything together.”

Since then, Halliday has participated in every Terry Fox Marathon but one. She’s helped raise over $15,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.

This past fall, the mother-daughter duo raised $1,500 for a local man undergoing Whipple surgery for pancreatic-type cancer.

Samantha Halliday, right, was recently nominated for a Junior Citizen Award. She credits her mom, Sandra McNay, left, for her community-minded views. Losing a favourite uncle to cancer inspired years of fundraising efforts. – Submitted photo

“It’s a cause that we all can relate to,” says McNay. “Everybody. Not just us.”

The Times asked Halliday where she gets her motivation. The answer — her mom.

“She always taught me to give back,” says Halliday. “She’s always been a big inspiration.”

Halliday says her mother’s involvement in many things inspired her to do the same. McNay added that it might be a generational effect.

“My mom was always doing something for somebody and never saying anything,” says McNay. “When my grandfather died, my mom found out about all these things that he did that were never shared until he passed away. I do believe you learn it from your family.”

On top of fundraising for cancer, Halliday helped her mom and grandma deliver Meals on Wheels for many years. She volunteered to help teach kids to ride horses. She’s coached skating for five years. She sent money to a family in Haiti. She’s made ice candles every Christmas since 2019, donating proceeds to three separate families.

McNay says her daughter is loyal and has strong work ethic.

“She believes all people deserve a chance,” says McNay. “She’s not afraid to stand up for who she is and what she believes in.”

For all she does, Halliday was recently nominated for the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s Ontario Junior Citizen Award by her neighbour and friend, Linda Hamilton.

She was nominated for being a “good kid” who does more than is expected of someone that age.

In the nomination form, Hamilton wrote that Halliday has always had the deep desire to help.

“She never hesitates to help anyone in need,” writes Hamilton. “I believe this young lady can and will make big changes in the world.”