At just 19-years-old, Donovan Fraser has overcome more obstacles than many people twice his age.
An enthusiastic soccer player, Fraser’s time on the field was cut short when he was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2011. He spent the next four years undergoing treatment that left him unable to play soccer, even once he was cured.
However, the Prince Albert resident continues to help the community in whatever ways he can, and those efforts earned him the 36th Terry Fox Award on Monday.
“I was excited and shocked because the person who nominated me didn’t even tell me they were nominating me,” Fraser chuckled shortly after receiving the award from Mayor Greg Dionne before Monday’s council meeting. “She just said, ‘I have something to tell you,’ and then we met for coffee.”
Although Fraser is cancer-free, the effects of his treatment are still felt every day. Steroids used as part of his treatment program caused major damage to both his left hip and his left knee, leading to hip replacement surgery soon after.
Playing soccer was out of the question, but Fraser never let that keep him from the game he loved. He would often show up on the sideline in crutches to support his teammates, and became a volunteer coach with the Prince Albert Youth Soccer Association Mixed U-14 team.
“Soccer was the sport that I played year after year and when I couldn’t get into it anymore I was disappointed, but I found another way to get back into it,” he said. “It’s just as enjoyable to help the kids and watch them learn.”
Fraser’s efforts didn’t end on the soccer field. He also started working with Prince Albert youth at the Ecole Vickers Before and After Schools Program, and launched his own Relay for Life team, which raised $30,000 for cancer research.
Those efforts impressed the Terry Fox Award committee.
“Donovan was an obvious choice for the award,” city recreation manager and award committee member Derek Blais said. “He’s an inspiration to many young people who are in his life. He’s a survivor of Leukemia, and he still lives each day not knowing what may become of it, and through that he’s still able to go on. He’s a role model.”
There are still a few obstacles for Fraser to overcome, the biggest being his desire to get back on the soccer pitch as a player. Despite the effects of his treatment, he’s working towards getting back on the field by the end of the year.
For Fraser, seeing the example of someone like Terry Fox, who was an avid basketball player, is an inspiration. Although work commitments will keep him from attending the 2018 Terry Fox Run, he’s grateful for Fox’s example, and hopeful it will inspire other youth battling cancer.
“Even though it’s hard, you need to get through it,” he said. “There are some better changes to it. It makes you stronger and it makes you wiser.”
The 2018 Terry Fox Run is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. Registration begins at 1 p.m. at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse.
The annual Terry Fox Award was established by the City of Prince Albert in 1981 to recognize those traits in young citizens which best emulate the ideals and inspiration of Terry Fox.