After Lori Pike (B.Comm.(Co-op.)’95, MBA’00) learned her son Adam was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of four, she was introduced to Candelighters N.L., a charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of children diagnosed with cancer.
Ms. Pike, who is currently the treasurer and Night of Delight co-ordinator, has dedicated herself to the organization since 2008. She is known as “Momma Candlelighter” for the amount of hats she’s worn and hours punched with the organization.
For her volunteer efforts, she was recognized as one of 14 outstanding Canadians selected by Volkswagen out of more than 1,300 submissions in 2019, and received the President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service in 2017.
In this Q&A, Memorial’s Outstanding Community Service Award recipient shares two professors who have shaped her professional career, the work she does with the Candlelighters and how she still found positives after receiving devastating news.
RH: Can you recall a particular experience or person who influenced and inspired your work and/or career trajectory during your time at Memorial?
LP: As I reflect on my time at Memorial, there are two professors in particular who influenced me the most: Judy Cumby and Dale Foster. I had Ms. Cumby for intermediate accounting and Dr. Foster for management systems.
I thoroughly enjoyed the courses they taught because of the subject matter and their effective teaching methods. Since I graduated in 1995, I have been able to apply what I learned to professionally grow into my current role as director of budgeting at Memorial.
With respect to my volunteer activity, my son Adam and all of the children and families who have been affected by childhood cancer have influenced me and inspired me to volunteer with the Candlelighters Association of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2008.
I have met so many courageous and inspiring children and their wonderful families.
I have also been able to use the skills that I learned at Memorial in my volunteer role, as treasurer.
RH: What is the most rewarding aspect of the work you do?
LP: Being able to help the children and families in Newfoundland and Labrador who have been affected by childhood cancer.
Childhood cancer affects the entire family and I personally know the effect that childhood cancer has on a child, and their family. Being on the volunteer board has provided me with the opportunity to assist with and organize fundraisers.
Securing annual funding has enabled the Candlelighters to continue to offer programs such as Camp Delight and the food cupboard at the Janeway.
“Through this award, I hope to increase awareness of childhood cancer and the supports offered by the Candlelighters.”
By also getting to know the families, I have a developed a deep understanding of the challenges experienced due to a childhood cancer diagnosis.
It is through this understanding that I have been able to work with our board to develop many new programs, such as diagnosis support, birthday club, bereavement support and scholarships that support children and families through all the stages of their childhood cancer journey.
RH: Can you comment on what it means to you to be named Memorial’s Outstanding Community Service Award recipient?
LP: I am truly humbled to receive this award.
Although I am the recipient, I would not have been able to do what I have done without the support of my family and my Candlelighters family.
Through this award, I hope to increase awareness of childhood cancer and the supports offered by the Candlelighters.
RH: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your education and career or words of advice to the Memorial community?
LP: When Adam was diagnosed, the trajectory of my life changed. However, I was able to turn a devastating life event into something very positive by volunteering with the Candlelighters.
Volunteering has become a huge part of life for my family. As a mother I am very proud to watch my two boys volunteer their time, as well, to help others.
I once read a quote by George Eliot who said, “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other,” and I believe this perfectly sums up why people volunteer.
The 2021 Alumni Tribute Awards will take place on Oct. 27 at the Emera Innovation Exchange and will be live-streamed.