The past year has been long and tough for Stella Heppleston and her family.
And there’s still a ways to go as the seven-year-old Pasadena girl continues to undergo treatment for a brain tumour at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s.
On Aug. 9, friends and family, and anyone who wants to join in, will parade from Deer Lake to Pasadena to mark the year since Stella first took ill.
Clarence White is organizing the parade for Stella.
The retired Elwood High teacher is a friend of the family. He taught with Stella’s dad Paul Heppleston at Elwood and lives next to her grandparents in Deer Lake.
“It’s been a long, long haul for them,” said White of the past year.
Stella has had 11 surgeries and is still having chemotherapy and radiation therapy. She can’t walk or talk, but White said she has been able to communicate non-verbally.
“She’s gradually improving,” he said and added “she’s got a ways to go yet.”
White said the past year has just not been hard on Stella in all that she’s had to endure, it’s also been draining on her family.
From the get-go though, the family has had the support of community near and far with fundraisers held in Pasadena, Corner Brook and Deer Lake. Paul has taught and touched students through his Mr. H Presents open mic events in all three communities.
“He’s a much loved teacher,” said White.
There’s also been events in St. John’s, Piccadilly and Ontario.
White said the Aug. 9 event is just another sign of support from the community.
He expects upwards of 400 people will participate in the parade.
Under police escort, the parade will leave Elwood High in Deer Lake at 10 a.m. Participants will walk seven kilometres to the end of St. Jude’s and then drive on the Trans-Canada Highway to exit 13 at Pasadena, from there they can walk or drive the last three kilometres to Pasadena Elementary, Stella’s school.
The parade will also serve as a fundraiser for Stella and her family.
White said letters have been sent to businesses in Deer Lake asking for donations and parade participants and others can also donate during the event.