Finally, some good news.
On Friday, April 3rd, the Canucks and Canucks for Kids Fund launched an online 50/50 raffle to support COVID-19 relief, as part of a digital Fan Appreciation event. The jackpot included $40,000 from unclaimed jackpots from this year's pre-season games, and over a week the total ballooned to $497,695, with a take-home prize of $248,848.
Melissa Pierre and her husband Desmond Johnnie bought tickets, they almost always do because, as Melissa said, "you'll never meet bigger Canucks fans than my husband and my dad. I'm so serious of that. They are true Canucks fans."
As luck would have it, the Canucks were able to repay the couple for their loyalty, but there is much more to the story of this family from Burns Lake, BC. In February of 2019, Desmond was diagnosed with Medullary Thyroid Cancer and was rushed to Vancouver for treatment and numerous surgeries; the family, including Melissa and their six-year-old daughter Payton, who lives with autism, was away from home for nearly two months and Desmond's outlook was so dire, his extended family was brought in to be by his side.
Against all odds, Desmond pulled through and the family was able to return home, which doctors deemed a stretch early on. Not wanting to risk further infection or complication to her husband's condition, Melissa put the family in self-isolation long before the entire world was on lockdown.
Caring for her husband and daughter, Melissa was unable to return to work, did not have enough hours for compassionate leave from work, and did not qualify for EI, meaning there was no way to climb the mountain of bills that was accumulating.
The quarter of a million dollars the family won in the Canucks 50/50 raffle will go towards alleviating some of the financial burdens that have been placed on the family.
"Everything was going on the credit card," said Melissa, during a phone interview Tuesday. "That card is still sitting with just $300 until it's at the limit."
Not for long.
"That's the first thing I thought of when I heard we won! I'm still in disbelief, it didn't really set in until I saw my name on the website alongside the other past 50/50 winners. It's funny, the Canucks sent me an email, and it went into my junk mail and I didn't see it. So they phoned me and the number had some weird signs on it and I was fully expecting a telemarketer. My husband and daughter were napping at the time, so I was doing my best not to scream!"
Melissa has since screamed in joy knowing the winnings will help take stress off the family financially, but there are still many battles upcoming for Desmond, Melissa and Payton.
"Since his last surgery, we found out he has cancer in the chest and the ribs and in his back, but it's too small to do any aggressive treatment for it. He's in constant pain. So now it's a lot of blood work, it's a lot of CT scans, it's a lot of visits to the cancer agency."
It's a lot of worrying, which every human can relate to right now.
If you think being in self-isolation for parts of 2020 has been difficult, imagine it being for a year, with no end in sight.
"I instantly knew I didn't want to bring extra germs home to add to anything, so we were basically in isolation. We watch people having to do it now for the virus and we see people reacting the same as we did, having no choice but to leave work and not knowing where your next meal is coming from, or where you'll even be next week. We've been living that for a year now. We make it work. It's hard for my daughter to understand, so we have baking days and watch movies and just try different things.
"We've never really had much," continued Melissa, "but we always bought the Canucks 50/50 tickets because somebody has to win."
You'd be hard-pressed to find more deserving winners.