In the past, I worked at Acadia University in the chemistry department helping to develop new anti-cancer treatments. For 5 years now, a man by the name of Joseph (Joe) Caldwell has donated money directly to the lab to assist with the research that is done there. As long as I have known him, Joe has worked at Acadia University as part of the janitorial staff and we always enjoyed when he stopped in for a chat. For more than a decade, he and his friend Shawna Hennigar, have been the main organizing forces behind the CANCER SUCKS! Halloween Howl, a local event created in memoriam of Shawna’s brother, and one of Joe’s close friends, Gordie Hennigar. Gordie, who passed away from cancer, is described as very unique, kind and inspiring. Joe met Gordie through music. Coming home from school one day, Joe heard music coming from a garage near one of the stops before his. After getting home and dropping his things off, he hitchhiked back to the garage to find the source of the music. After discovering the source of the music, Joe found Gordie and from there a decades long friendship started. Seeing Shawna and Joe recount memories of him brought lamenting eyes and big smiles to their faces. Gordie was also described as a people person and which showed when he would host his annual pig roast. 2004, the year of his passing, would have marked the 20th annual pig roast. “Gordie was one of those people that loved bringing everyone together,” Shawna said, “I wanted to continue the tradition he began 20 years prior to his passing. To bring together good friends, good music, and good times. To share memories from the past and to create new ones for the future.” To honor him and his philosophy, she and her sister Debbie (who travels from Alberta every year to be here) decided to make the 20th annual pig roast into the 1st annual CANCER SUCKS! Halloween Howl. A different gathering, now in its 14th year, designed to bring people together, and raise money to help cancer research, which is a cause Shawna is sure Gordie would have wanted.
The event, which will be held this year on October 28th at the Brooklyn Civic Centre, has many different attractions. There will be music provided by the No Name Blues Band, Under Pressure and The Basement (formerly Eddy’s Basement), and draws including a 50/50, a “Spooky Skull Juice Draw” (NSLC gift card), door prizes, along with multiple costume contests; there is a cash bar as well. Every year the event has gotten larger in size and has outgrown two previous venues over time. Joe approached our lab in 2012 about donating the proceeds to the McFarland Labs out of a sense of frustration when donating to larger organizations. Both Shawna and Joe feel more comfortable donating raised funds to the McFarland Labs stating “It’s nice to know all the money goes to the research when you know the organization”. If you would like to know more about the CANCER SUCKS! Halloween Howl you can visit the Facebook page and get into direct contact Shawna for the most up to date information.