Stephanie Grady’s spirit captured in new memorial pavilion

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – There wasn’t a dry eye in The Stephanie Grady Educational Pavilion on Sunday, as her husband Nick thanked hundreds for their support during the We’re Nut Givin’ Up campaign.

Joined by his three young children – Taylor, 6, Riley, 2, and Danika, 1 – Nick cut the ribbon at the memorial dedication in Stephanie Grady’s honour at the Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Grady passed away at 32 after a battle with a rare form of cancer on May 10.

“I often wonder how things would have been different if Stephanie would have chosen not to fight,” said Nick as he fought back a tirade of emotions.

She suffered from NUT midline carcinoma, an aggressive cancer she discovered during pregnancy, that had spread to her hips, pelvis, and spine – causing a tumour in her lung.

“I wonder how her final months would have been different. Maybe rather than driving to the hospital on a near daily basis, we could have traveled to see parts of the world she wanted to see. I know she would have returned to P.E.I. to visit her family and friends. Things surely would have been different. Although she wouldn’t have been living with hope, and she would have died silently. By choosing to fight for her life, Stephanie unknowingly at the time made a lot of noise,” Nick added.

The Gradys welcomed their daughter Danika in July 2013, and just several months later in November she underwent surgery to have the lung removed.

Despite a grim diagnosis from doctors who pronounced her condition incurable, Stephanie never stopped fighting.

She sought treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in March. The exorbitant cost of the drug she required called a BET inhibitor, which was still in clinical trials and therefore wasn’t covered by OHIP, meant the Gradys needed funds, and fast.

But the beloved St. Lawrence High School teacher who lived with her family in Long Sault was not alone. Not by far.

Cue Team Grady and the We’re NUT Givin’ Up fundraising campaign that raised $200,000 through a series of tournaments and events across SDG in only three months.

To be honest we weren’t quite sure what to think. We really didn’t want to reach out for help. But at the same time, we knew we probably weren’t going to be able to do it on our own either,” he said.

Brockville resident Heather Lisney, an instrumental part of the fundraising campaign, said the pavilion will be the first of many ways in which Team Grady, in collaboration with Nick Grady and Jennifer Doyle, will be giving back to honour Stephanie with the remaining funds from the campaign.

Nick handed over a $15,000 cheque to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Wheels of Hope program in the SDG & Prescott-Russell areas at the event.

Funds will also be used to help purchase new equipment for the Cornwall Community Hospital’s new chemotherapy wing, to support Winchester District Memorial and Ottawa General Hospitals, and to establish an employee illness relief program for UCDSB staff members.

Annual bursaries will also be established at Rothwell-Osnabruck High School and Charlottetown Rural High School in PEI, and through some of the local churches. Nick is also working with local hockey organizations to facilitate opportunities for more children to participate.

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