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Teacher honours late wife by helping others

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Derek Bouma knows the importance of having the right supports when tragedy strikes.

“You hear it all the time – the phrase ‘pay it forward,’” said the teacher at Colonel Cameron School in Corunna.

“It makes me think of what people did for me, even complete strangers.”

Becky Bouma
Becky Bouma

Bouma reflected on the outpouring of support he and late wife Becky Bouma received in 2010 after she was diagnosed with leukemia. A Kindergarten teacher at the same school at the time, Bouma was just 26 when she was quickly admitted to London hospital for treatment.

“The school and community ended up doing a T-shirt drive to help raise money so we would stay financially OK,” said Bouma, pointing to hundreds of purple ‘Believe’ T-shirts sold in his wife’s honour.

Becky Bouma passed away suddenly in 2013 from a blood clot in the lung. Their daughter Katie had not yet turned one.

“It was so tragic and very shocking to everyone. When something like that happens, you realize how much support you really need.”

That’s when he decided to launch the Becky Bouma Believe Golf Tournament, now approaching its third year.

All proceeds from the event, slated for May 28 at Sawmill Creek Resort and Spa, go to deserving families in Sarnia-Lambton affected by tragedy.

“When this kind of thing happens, especially so suddenly, sometimes people just don’t know what to do. We want to help them out financially, and give them support,” said Bouma, noting the nearly $15,000 raised so far has benefitted four local families.

That includes the family of Crystal Young, a 31-year-old Sarnia mother who left three children behind in 2014 after she was struck on the head while playing baseball and died several days later. Proceeds from the tournament went into a fund for Young’s children.

“We were also able to give $3,000 to a young woman working two jobs, taking thousands of dollars in medication for an irregular heartbeat. She could barely support herself, and was having to drive back and forth to London.

“She was in complete shock and tears when we handed her the cheque,” he added. “That made it all worth it — that’s what this tournament is all about.”

Bouma assembled a five-member board of directors who accept nominations from the community — naming families who’ve been impacted by a life-altering event — then decide if and how they can help. He’s hoping to spread the word so more nominations start coming in.

“We want more people to know about this and be able to access it… we like to keep it local, and try to keep a connection in some way to the families — even if it’s helping out with rides to London and back,” said Bouma.

Benefitting families are all invited to the event so participants have a chance to meet the people they’re helping out.

“I’m very passionate about this,” said Bouma. “When I lost Becky, there were a lot of difficult things that came with it. But this is one of those things that helps provide some positive light.

“It gives me a good feeling.”

For more information about the Becky Bouma Believe Golf Tournament, including how to nominate a deserving family, sponsorship opportunities and registration, visit www.believetournament.com




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