Wes Swain, right, and Norm Morgan, left, present Charlaine Lumb of the Cowichan District Hospital with a donation at the 2015 Cody Classic. (Citizen file)

Cody Classic marks 20 years of caring for Cowichan kids

Childhood cancer fundraiser still going strong

In 1999, after Wes Swain’s four-year-old son Cody was diagnosed with cancer, the guys Wes played ball with held a small tournament to raise money for the family.

This weekend, the Cody Classic will play its 20th iteration, after two decades of helping families throughout the Cowichan Valley who are going through the same thing the Swains dealt with in 1999.

“It meant so much to our family, we never let it stop,” Wes Swain explains.

The tournament has developed a group of devotees who can be counted on to play year in and year out. There’s even a waiting list for teams.

“There’s basically a following, and now it’s in its second generation,” Swain says. “Over 20 years, that’s how it works.”

The money, goes to families in the Cowichan Valley “from Chemainus to the Malahat, and from Maple Bay to Nitinat,” who are dealing with childhood cancer. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been handed out, to as many as five new families a year.

“The money raised, we hope we never have to give it away,” Swain says. “When we do, it means another family has been diagnosed.”

From the costs of travelling to the Mainland for treatment, to lost wages, to other expenses that aren’t covered by a family’s health plan, there are many reasons a family might need money in such a situation — hence the no-questions-asked policy. The Cody Classic still helps families once they are cancer-free when they have to travel for checkups.

“Money doesn’t really matter to you when you’re dealing with that,” Swain notes. “All you want is your child to be healthy, and then bills bite you in the butt.”

The focus is on childhood cancer, but the Cody Classic has also donated to the Cowichan District Hospital maternity and pediatric unit.

“When we went through it, we found out our little hospital didn’t have things like little needles for kids,” Swain explains.

Cody Swain is now 24, and taking university courses in Vancouver.

“He’s healthy,” Wes says. “And we don’t talk about the C-word except when it comes to raising money for it.”

There’s more than one word starting with that letter that you don’t utter around Wes Swain.

“We’re not a charity,” he emphasizes. “I hate the word ‘charity.’ We’re just neighbours helping neighbours. That’s what we do in the Valley.”

Teams pay a $300 entry fee and donate items for the silent and live auctions, but there are no prizes handed out to the champions.

“They’re all winners just for playing for children’s cancer,” Swain says. “It’s all about fun and being there for the right reasons.”

The tournament was limited to 16 teams in the past, but expanded to 20 for the 20th year. Most teams are from the Valley, although several players come from out-of-town to play with family and friends. Swain would like to see similar events across the Island.

“There’s no reason why every community on Vancouver Island couldn’t have a tournament this weekend for childhood cancer in their community,” he said. “It’s not that much work once you get teams that believe in the cause.”

Games last five innings, and each batter starts with one ball and one strike to keep things going. Most games are played at Waldon Park in Glenora, starting on Friday night after 5 p.m. There will be a few games on the Cowichan Tribes fields Friday night and Saturday morning.

Wes Swain will give a presentation at noon on Saturday “about why we’re there and what can happen,” and then 11-year-old Poppy White is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial pitch early on Saturday afternoon.

Poppy has been battling leukemia, and the Cody Classic has been helping her out.

“I coached her older sister [Belle] in soccer, so they knew our story,” Swain notes. “And then for it to happen to them, it blows you out of the water. It’s hard to imagine until it hits home.”

The forecast for this weekend isn’t favourable to softball, but Swain isn’t concerned.

“The big guy upstairs has always helped us out,” he said. “I think we’ve had three days of rain in 20 years. Either way, we’ll be prepared for it. If the worst thing you have to worry about is playing ball in the rain, you’re living a pretty good life.”

Just Posted

Midget Bulldogs come within a rouge of upsetting league leaders

Cowichan football team shocks North Langley

Student arrested at Maple Bay Elementary

Pupils never in danger, incident unrelated to the school

Cowichan Capitals hope to regain confidence after losses

Caps drop two at home against division rivals

Nov. 15 is for the ‘forgotten mourners’

The holiday season is approaching and is a particularly difficult time for… Continue reading

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

Most Read