​​​​Image of Shemar with jacket
Shemar Charles, an 18-year-old leukemia patient at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, is shocked to find a surprise waiting for him at the cancer centre.
(Photo: The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation)​

Karma is a wonderful thing.

To help with fundraising for Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, one team happened upon a unique idea: hold fundraising auctions using Facebook.

At various times, the team has auctioned off autographed photos of hockey players and books autographed by rock stars, and over the past four years, the team has raised over $50,000 for personalized cancer medicine at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

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It all started with the Winter Classic: Maple Leafs versus Red Wings

One team member, Pat Park, spent many years working for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and provided a beautiful jacket worn by team members and staff at the Winter Classic, a regular season hockey game between the Maple Leafs and the host Detroit Red Wings held on Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium ('The Big House') in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The jacket was beautiful, and was certain to draw interest from the predominantly hockey crowd which makes up the membership in the Facebook auction group.

The bidding grew higher and higher until the deadline was reached, and with a bid of $225, Frank Vigliotti of Poughkeepsie, New York was the owner of the amazing jacket commemorating a milestone event in hockey's storied history.

But then Frank did something totally unexpected.

 "I am happy to win but I would like to donate the jacket to one of the kids fighting cancer, if that's possible," he wrote to the auction's host. "You guys [at the Princess Margaret] do such a great job and these kids are so courageous. It's the least I can do.  It is great to help."

The call went out to the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program at the Princess Margaret, a program that provides personalized supportive care to younger patients being treated at the cancer centre.

Meet Shemar Charles

The AYA program found just the right person -- Shemar Charles, a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan who had received his initial leukemia treatment at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, but after turning 18, continued his treatment at the Princess Margaret.

Shemar and his mother were delighted to be informed of the generosity of Frank Vigliotti, and received the jacket on Aug. 4. Shemar arrived at the cancer centre wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs' ball cap, and when he tried on the jacket, it fit like it was custom made for him.

"Please thank the guy [Pat Park] who donated the jacket in the first place, and please thank Frank [Vigliotti] for what he has done for me," says Shemar. "I love it!"

Although it was 26 C in Toronto that day, Shemar refused to take off the winter jacket.

Shemar Charles's cancer treatments are going as well as can be expected, and the recent graduate will be attending college in September…wearing the Toronto Maple Leafs' Winter Classic jacket so selflessly donated by Frank Vigliotti, a man he'll likely never meet.

Learn more about Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer, here.
For more information about the AYA Program, click here

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