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Home away from home is a lifeline

For Immediate Release
July 15, 2014

EDMONTON, AB – “I was close to dying. I had dropped around 50 lbs. in a month and a half and I didn’t know why.” Veteran of the Canadian Forces Ron Melnyk had ulcerative colitis and his first flare up almost took the father of three. But his family’s stay at Valour Place wasn’t supposed to be about him.

Melnyk’s wife Linda had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011. After being in remission for two years, the cancer came back and spread. The Melnyks were planning to stay at Valour Place to allow Linda to undergo radiation in hopes of containing the cancer. In the month leading up to their 5-week stay, Ron’s flare up put him in hospital and as his wife travelled to the Cross Cancer Institute for treatment, he went daily to the Royal Alexandra Hospital to bring his colitis under control.

Why Build It?

Valour Place opened in 2012 to give military members, veterans, and RCMP a place to stay while undergoing medical treatment. As the first of its kind in Canada, Edmonton was the right fit not only because of the large population of military personnel but because of its world class health care in rehabilitation, brain injury, spinal cord injury, and amputations.

Pregnant with twins, Laura and husband Master Corporal John Visser commuted from Cold Lake for specialized appointments throughout Laura’s entire pregnancy. The local hospital just wasn’t equipped to care for multiples so the Vissers knew they would have to make it to Edmonton to have the babies. “I felt so scared all the time being so far away from the city. Staying the last 3 weeks at Valour Place alleviated my fear and took all the stress away because we were right next to the hospital” recalled Laura. “It was a 6-hour round trip to see the doctor from home, and at 35 weeks pregnant it was getting more and more stressful to drive and still be a mom to our son when I got back to Cold Lake later that day.”

“We call it hope away from home.” Says Dennis Erker, chairperson of Valour Place’s board of directors. “At Valour Place you have people with similar situations hurting too. So the home is designed to encourage interaction between our guests. Everyone has a reason for staying there.”

RCMP officer Michael Jaszczyszyn stayed at Valour Place to recover from cancer surgery. He really appreciated the security in healing with others in like professions. “It’s kind of nice to talk to people. It’s nice that you have that option for interaction. A lot of the treatments [people who stay are receiving] are the same whether it’s chemo or radiation or surgery.”

The Endowment Fund

In the 20 months since opening, Valour Place has been running at or near capacity. An endowment fund was established from the start to ensure that no matter what happens in the future, Valour Place will never be a burden on the community to continue operations.

Erker is clear about why fundraising is necessary. “The money’s being raised to top up our endowment fund. A concern I’ve always had in fundraising and being a donor in many projects is not being able to afford to operate the facility after it’s built. You get people excited about building it and then you have a constant plea in the community to raise funds to somehow operate it.”

Announcement and Media Opportunity – July 21, 2014

Details surrounding the Pathway to Valour fundraising campaign and the upcoming March for Valour will be announced. Previous Valour Place guests Michael Jaszczyszyn, John & Laura Visser, and Board President Dennis Erker will be on hand to speak to media about their experiences and to relay the importance of supporting Valour Place.

Date: July 22, 2014

Time: 11am – 12pm with a light lunch to follow

Where: Valour Place, 11109 111 Avenue, Edmonton, AB

“I probably would have went bankrupt [without Valour Place]. I would have been selling off things, asking for financial support from family.A good thing about the military is that you are instilled with a sense of pride. The bad thing, if not checked, is that you get too prideful. I am in the process of learning not to let pride get in the way of asking for help when I need it.” – Ron Melnyk, Veteran

Media Contact

Erin Rayner, ED Marketing & Communications
780-886-8386 cell

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