BLANK SPACER

Victoria’s chalk fairy brings smiles to kids with cancer

Jamie Lee Hellard surprises pediatric cancer patients with custom chalk drawings on their birthdays

Last spring, University of Victoria student and varsity swimmer Jamie Lee Hellard was preparing to go to Olympic trials. Then, the pandemic hit, and with a sudden abundance of time Hellard made a decision that led to her nickname today – the chalk fairy.

Since May, Hellard has been partnering with Island Kids Cancer Association to create custom chalk creations for pediatric oncology patients on their birthdays and on the birthdays of their siblings.

She first found inspiration for her idea last Easter when she was trying to hatch up a way to make the holiday special for her one-year-old niece without getting too close physically. The resulting chalk drawing made Hellard’s niece so happy the UVic student thought there must be a way for her to spread that joy further.

READ MORE: Family’s sidewalk chalk messages lift spirits in a time of social distancing

READ MORE: Little libraries stock chalk across Greater Victoria to spread positive messages

“I really decided I was going to have to make a choice on whether to sit around and wait for COVID to pass or to take the opportunity to make someone’s life better,” Hellard said.

Choosing the latter, Hellard reached out to Island Kids and together they laid out a plan.

Family navigator, Tania Downey, would reach out to the parents of pediatric oncology patients, kids fighting cancer, and determine when the children’s birthdays were and what colours, animals and cartoons were their favourites.

Then, on the morning of the child’s birthday, Hellard would sneakily create her chalk drawing in front of their house. The kids would wake up to a special birthday surprise.

“It’s all about just putting a smile on their face, even if just for that moment,” said Downey who comes from an oncology family.

She explained how when one of your children is diagnosed with cancer, suddenly all that matters is living in the present moment. “It’s the little things that make a difference in these families lives,” Downey said.

Recalling one of her favourite drawings, Hellard said she was sneaking up to a house one morning when a woman and her son came walking out of the house.

Immediately, Hellard feared her surprise had been ruined, but the woman reassured her that the drawing was for her daughter, not her son.

Her son, a previous pediatric oncology patient, knew exactly what drawing his sister would want.

“He spent the next two hours with me showing me what he wanted done and crafting this perfect unicorn-cat for his sister based off his own cat,” said Hellard. “I just took direction from him and I think he made the drawing really special.”

Hellard is taking a break from being the chalk fairy over the fall and winters months, but hopes to return in the fall with a whole team of chalk fairies.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca

artistCancerGreater Victoria

 

Jamie Lee Hellard — the chalk fairy — has used her spare time during the COVID-19 pandemic to surprise pediatric oncology patients with custom chalk drawings on their birthdays. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)

Just Posted

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

Police tape crosses Auchinachie Road at Somenos Road as police investigate an incident Friday at 11:30 a.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
UPDATE: North Cowichan neighbourhood, school evacuated after gardener digs up explosives

Students removed from Ecole Mount Prevost school in an ‘abundance of caution’

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Colin Dowler survived a grizzly bear attack July 29, 2019 on Mt. Dougie Dowler on the south coast of British Columbia and reports that his physical and mental rehabilitation is still ongoing. Photo courtesy Colin Dowler
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue manager Ken Neden, as he goes over the events of the Qualicum Falls river rescue on Dec. 12, 2020, for a United Kingdom television program “Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’. (Mandy Moraes photo)
UK TV show spreading news of daring Qualicum Falls river rescue across the world

Arrowsmith SAR trio share their accounts for ‘Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday morning, May 13

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

Most Read