For the last 20 years, Lorry Spiker, owner of Spiker Equipment in Morinville, Alta., has set aside a day in the week between Christmas and New Year’s to bundle up in a warm winter coat and, alongside his family, hand-deliver yearly donations to charities across Edmonton.
The giving route the family takes each year is always the same. First, they drive from their home in Morinville down to Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute to present the Institute with a cheque, then they head south, park at Southgate Centre, and ride the LRT to the Stollery Children’s Hospital for the second cheque drop-off. After catching the LRT back to their car, their final stop before suppertime is a drive to North Pointe Community Church, where they present their year-end tithe donation.
Spiker says he chooses to support the Cross Cancer Institute every year because he has lost family members to the disease. Both of his grandfathers died from cancer, and his older brother, Jason, was diagnosed with leukemia as an infant and passed away before Spiker was born.
Spiker’s parents never really shared much with him about Jason’s life, but the combined losses of the brother he never knew and his grandfathers keep him motivated to donate to cancer research and patient support. “I hope, if nothing else, for people with cancer to have relief, and, ultimately, to live longer,” he says of the intent behind his annual donation.
But it isn’t just his own ties to cancer that keep Spiker donating to the Cross Cancer Institute — he and his children are also drawn in by the enthusiasm and warmth they are always shown by the Institute’s staff when the family arrives to present their cheque.
In the early years, Jane Weller, development director for the Alberta Cancer Foundation at the Cross Cancer Institute, would ask that Spiker call ahead just so that she could be there to receive the group and their donation in person.
“Jane was always the welcoming recipient of our giving. She had an everlasting effect on me and on my children as they started understanding what we were doing there and what the Cross Cancer Institute does,” says Spiker. “She would always type out a special letter to me and my family thanking us for the visit and donation. It may seem like a small gesture to some, but it goes a great distance. I have numerous letters from Jane framed and some displayed in my office.”
“I hope that if nothing else, for people with cancer to have relief, and, ultimately, to live longer.” — Lorry Spiker
How much Spiker and his family donate each holiday season varies depending on factors related to Spiker Equipment’s year-end review, but the cheques dropped off at the Cross Cancer Institute over the past 20 years now total more than $33,150.
Dealing in pre-owned heavy equipment trade, rentals and sales, Spiker Equipment is not a large company; in its busiest season, the store will employ up to five workers, but it generally keeps three full-time employees. Despite his company’s size, Spiker makes sure to prioritize giving back and believes that donating is an important practice to model to his children.
“In the future, if they are blessed like I have been, they will do the same,” he says. “They will keep donating so they can help others.”