NEWS

New van for cancer-stricken family after old one stolen and torched

06/02/2015 01:43 EDT | Updated 06/02/2016 05:59 EDT
Gus Beck, a single father with twin sons from the southern Newfoundland town of St. Lawrence, was overcome with emotion as he got the keys to his new donated van.

His son Damean Stacey-Beck, 7, is in remission, but has ongoing leukemia treatments at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's.

Their van was stolen from the parking lot of the nearby Ronald McDonald House where the family was staying during Damean's most recent treatment May 18.

The theft and burning of the vehicle came the same week Damean was set to receive a travel trailer from the local branch of the Children's Wish Foundation.

Beck says he was in shock when he first discovered his van had been stolen.

"I had to bring the boy over to medical day care that morning ... and I was in a daze. I didn't even understand what the nurse was saying," he said.

"I was devastated when I lost [the van]. I wasn't expecting this [new van donation], this quickly."

Beck said he and the boys found out about the new van May 27. They were very excited to pick up their new ride, a 2009 Pontiac Montana, on Tuesday.

'I can't thank people enough'

Beck filled up with tears several times while speaking about the public's kindness in the face of their misfortune.

He says the van will make a huge difference in their lives, and that he didn't expect so many people to offer their help and support.

"I was surprised. Really surprised. Overwhelmed. I can't thank people enough, from the bottom of my heart," he said.

Helping out

Dianne Butt, the Newfoundland and Labrador co-ordinator with the Children's Wish Foundation, said she found out the next day after Beck's van had been stolen.

Beck was calling to see if Children's Wish could help them get back to St. Lawrence, about a four-hour drive from St. John's, because Damean was being discharged from the hospital.

"So we put everything into motion, the Children's Wish Foundation, and got Gus and his family [and the new travel trailer] back to St. Lawrence," she said. 

"Edie Newton made a personal plea to the public to help Gus, and within less than 48 hours, we had the van."

Butt said they were happy to help the family out.

"He's got his van, his winter tires, he's got enough gas cards to get him back and forth to St. Lawrence for the next year," she said.

Ashford Sales also helped out, and equipped the new van with a hitch for the trailer.

"It was amazing how the public came together," Butt said. 

"It is definitely a Newfoundland town that puts everything together, and we will always help each other out, no doubt."

Summer plans

Beck said the donation means the world to his family. They have plans this summer to use the van and trailer to go fishing and camping at Salmonier Pond on the Burin Peninsula highway.

He said Damean is in good health, and good spirits.

"He's gone through the hardest part of his treatments now, and he's started his maintenance this month, so he's only going once a month from now on," Beck said.

"He's healthy, he's happy — a ball of energy."

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