Calgary cancer patient's Christmas tree goodwill keeps on giving
Last fall, Calgarians rallied around Kim De Gagne when his Christmas tree business needed a boost – now he's giving back
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After receiving an invaluable gift from Calgarians last year, a local Christmas tree vendor is passing on the kindness he was shown by donating this year’s proceeds to a good cause.
Kim De Gagne has been selling Christmas trees and wreaths from a small lot in McKenzie Towne for more than a decade, and more recently, battling an incurable blood and bone cancer called multiple myeloma.
Last fall, Calgarians rallied around De Gagne when his Christmas tree business needed a boost – a massive response to a Facebook post asking people to help the former dance instructor out by purchasing a tree from his lot snowballed into a dream trip to Hawaii, something he desperately wanted to experience with his wife, Alanna, while they still could.
At the time, De Gagne said he sold 132 trees in one day, a record in his 11 years of business.
“Last year, the city came together and did something nice for my wife and myself,” he told Metro this week. “I really wanted to give back and pay it forward. I think if everybody had that kind of attitude, the world would be a much happier place.”
De Gagne decided to donate to a cause close to his heart – turns out his tree supplier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, felt the same way.
“His father passed away a few years ago and he had the same cancer that I have,” De Gagne said.
“He gave me five dozen 12-inch wreaths and five dozen 16-inch wreaths for free, so I’m selling them for $20 and $30 each – and all of that money is going to cancer.”
Any profit, after his own costs are covered, will also be donated – De Gagne plans on purchasing needed equipment and supplies for the clinic where he received a stem cell transplant in May, a month after he returned from Hawaii with Alanna.
It took a few months to recover, but De Gagne says he’s feeling stronger than ever since his diagnosis four years ago.
When asked what brings him back to the lot this year, his answer is honest.
“(Having cancer) has changed my thought process – before I used to think of me, we all do – now, I don’t care how I’m going to get ahead,” De Gagne said.
“I’m not making any money doing this but my success in this is that I have a lot of friends, I’m gaining more friends, and I’m getting joy out of it.”
He’ll be open (8 McKenzie Towne Avenue SE) until Dec. 20 – provided he doesn’t sell out.