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Richmond high school getting set for emotional fundraiser

Stronger Than Cancer event combines with MacNeill secondary's basketball season opener
McNeill secondary is getting ready to host once again its annual Stronger Than Cancer fundraiser

A heartwarming and poignant event is returning to a Richmond school early next month.

The 8th annual Stronger Than Cancer fundraiser makes a welcome return to MacNeill secondary on Monday, Dec. 5, with a feast of high school basketball, Filipino food and raffle prizes.

The event, like so many of its kind, has been put on hold for the last two years due to the pandemic.

So it’s been a long time to wait for MacNeill teacher Lauren Valiquette, who helped found the fundraiser after her dad, Jesse Belonio, passed away from cancer in the summer of 2014.

“He was always so healthy, active and loved basketball, so it was a shocker when we found out he had lung cancer in the fall of 2013,” said Valiquette.

“The senior boys basketball coach, Steward Siy, also lost his wife due to cancer. He has been coaching for so many years and is an amazing mentor for a lot of the students.”

Filipino food and raffle prizes on offer

Valiquette said the event is open to the public and money is raised by entry donations to the basketball games, which coincides with the season home opener, as well as selling shirts designed by Michael Macapagal.

She added that there’s also a “huge concession” with Filipino foods made by a lot of the parents at the school and a raffle with a “lot of cool prizes.”

“This year, we will also be showcasing ‘The Grizzle Truth’ on Dec. 6 at our theatre in the school, with the proceeds also benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation.

“(We got) Kathleen Jayme, the director of (the film), which just debuted at the VIFF, to show (it) in our theatre the night after the event.”

Tickets for the film are $10. To order tickets, email Valiquette at or Kevin Henders at

The fundraiser kicks off Monday, Dec. 5 at 3:30 p.m. and goes to 9:30 p.m..

All the proceeds go to benefit the BC Cancer Foundation, with almost $10,000 having been raised so far by previous events.

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