Derby marks $100,000 in Paradis Cancer Fund donations
FORT KENT, Maine — The Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund received $18,000, its largest donation to date, from the organizers of the annual Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby. The donation marks $100,000 that the derby has donated since it began 16 years ago.
“We are so honored to receive this continuing support for the residents of the St. John Valley from the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby,” said Edgar J. Paradis Board President Travis Guy. “$100,000 is quite a milestone and represents direct aid to hundreds of local families over the years.”
The derby started in 2006 as a fun way to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy northern Aroostook County’s lakes and the sport of ice fishing. From the beginning, organizers wanted to give back to the community and so they chose to benefit the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund since most of their registrants were from the St. John Valley and the fund supported that same population during times of greatest need.
Along with providing education, resources and support groups for cancer patients and their families, the fund offers financial assistance when travel is needed for treatments. This support helps ease the burden on families during an already stressful time. When someone receives a cancer diagnosis in the closely connected community of the St. John Valley, there are often many people who are impacted either directly or indirectly. There are no financial parameters that applicants must meet in order to qualify to receive assistance from the fund.
“All of the donations we receive stay local to assist St. John Valley families with getting the care they need, especially when travel is necessary to obtain that care,” said Guy.
During its inaugural year, the Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby registered 290 participants, resulting in an initial donation to the Fund of $2,590.67. Fast forward another 15 years and the Derby, now Maine’s largest ice fishing event, saw a record number of registrants – 1,806, to be exact. What makes this record even more impressive is that organizers accomplished this during a pandemic that caused them to completely revamp the way things would be done this year so that they could ensure the safety of participants. As the event has grown over time, so have the donations.
“To be honest, we never expected this event to become so big and so popular throughout the entire state, neighboring states, and New Brunswick. We are all very proud of what we have accomplished and the feedback from everyone is both humbling and amazing,” derby chairman Paul Bernier said.
“Our goal has always been about making sure that we can sustain through a bad year while still being able to donate to the Cancer Fund. Over the past 16 years, we have not had a bad year (knock on wood) and this is always good as far the amount of our donation to the fund,” said Bernier.
The Edgar J. (Guy) Paradis Cancer Fund, originally known as the Paradis Leukemia Fund, began in 1978. Guy Paradis, a resident of the St. John Valley who had erythro-leukemia, often had to leave the familiarity of the Valley in order to receive treatment in hospitals that were unfamiliar and far from family. While his family was able to be with him throughout most of his hospital experience, there were times when he was alone and despaired of the loneliness and isolation he felt while separated from loved ones.
When he died, he wanted those who were in similar circumstances to have the comfort of having family nearby. He willed start-up funding so that other patients receiving cancer treatment therapy would have members of their families with them, especially when treatment was required great distances from home.
To learn more about the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund or to make a donation, visit www.paradiscancerfund.org/.