When the Olympic torch made it's way through Winnipeg on January 6th of this year, 13-year-old Winnipegger Noah Palansky was the official torch bearer for the city.
Selected by Mayor Sam Katz because of his efforts in raising more than $60,000 (at the time) for CancerCare Manitoba, Noah Palansky was a good choice to carry the torch.
While interning at the Winnipeg Free Press during Christmas break, I had the honour of meeting the Palansky Family when I was assigned to write a story about Noah.
I met the Palansky's at their Winnipeg home, after the kids finished hockey practice one night. They welcomed me into their living room, and began to tell me about their lives.
Noah, at the ripe ol' age of 12 decided that he wanted to participate in CancerCare's Challenge for Life walk. -- His parents were hesitant to let him, because the entry fee to participate was $1,000. However they decided to let him sign up and Noah astounded them, and everyone else, by collecting $14,000 in three weeks. His goal, is to raise $1-million for cancer research. (To date Noah has raised $125,000!)
Noah's inspiration was his mother, Naomi, who had been diagnosed with the disease two years earlier.
"I knew there was nothing medically I could do to fix this," he told me. "So I did what I knew I could do."
After I left the Palansky household, I felt inspired. Bruce and Naomi (the parents) and Noah and Lexi (the kids) seemed like truly wonderful people. They were extremely down to earth and easy to talk to, and they were passionate about Noah's cause. Notably, they were also a huge hockey family, with a dog named Crosby, after Naomi's favourite hockey player, Pittsburgh Penguin's Captain Sidney Crosby.
The story I wrote about Noah was the last one I wrote for the Free Press before returning back to school. It is one that I am proud of because I got to showcase a kid who did -- and is doing -- a great thing.
Sadly, while reading the Obituaries in Saturday's Free Press, I saw Naomi Palansky's obituary notice. The beautiful hockey-mom passed away earlier this month from breast cancer.
I only met the family one time, but I can honestly say that I am profoundly sad that Naomi lost her battle with cancer. She and her family left a warm impression on me, and I was really rooting for her to beat this...
Sometimes, as a journalist, you become connected to your stories and the people in them.
My condolences to the Palansky family.
To make a donation to Noah's campaign, please log on to www.challengeforlife.ca and search for Noah Palansky.