A 6-year-old patient’s family is fighting back as a fraudulent solicitor takes advantage of her family’s plight.
Joshua Weekes’ adorable face has surely come across your online newsfeed or local newspaper the last few months. This 6-year-old from Richmond, BC was diagnosed with leukemia in February and has been battling his cancer at BC Children’s Hospital. His family has been urging bone marrow donors of mixed ethnicities to come forward in the hopes of finding a stem cell tranplant match for Joshua.
The Weekes family was alerted to a woman soliciting funds for Joshua at a booth in front of a Superstore in Port Coquitlam, claiming she was representing Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and asking for money from the public to “help with costs”. The woman has been identified by Global BC as Kyra Kathleen Foster.
Lia Weekes, Joshua’s mother, went to see Foster at the store and thought that the details didn’t add up. She said the credit card reader attached to Foster’s phone was “a huge red flag.”
“I think it’s absolutely despicable that somebody, anybody, would manipulate a situation and take advantage of both the public’s care and concern and the public’s generosity and of our situation,” said Weekes.
“I feel that we’ve had more than enough of our share of heartbreak so far in watching our child undergo intense chemotherapy and fight for his life.”
Weekes contacted CBS, but Foster had got to them first. “CBS told us that Foster must have had good intentions but gotten confused and she was willing to give us the funds she had raised on that one day.
“So, I accepted the funds and thanked Foster, even though the situation still didn’t feel quite right.”
Foster claimed she’d only fundraised that one time, but had been seen using Joshua’s situation to solicit funds from the public a total of 4 occasions at 3 different grocery stores. She has also been spotted raising money for a different child in Ladner in March and another one in Langford last Christmas. Police are investigating but have not determined if a criminal offence took place or if it was a case of misguided intentions.
Meanwhile, Joshua is “holding up fairly well” after his third round of chemotherapy at BC Children’s Hospital. Weekes said, “He’s definitely showing that he’s a trooper.”
“We’re still praying every night and hopeful for a match,” Weekes said that she’s been told by doctors that her son’s situation remains urgent.
“Thankfully, the support and genuine care that we have been so blessed to receive from the public far outweighs the impact of this horrible experience.”
How To Spot the Scam
I work with an official partner of Canadian Blood Services (OtherHalf-Chinese Stem Cell Initiative) and we can run our own stem cell drives. This is how official stem cell drives are different from the booths like Foster’s.
- We do not ask for money. CBS has said that it does not solicit funds on behalf of any family. If you see a booth for stem cell donations claiming to be with CBS, but asking for money donations – call CBS or 911 to report them right away. Weekes is right that a credit card reader on Foster’s phone was a “huge red flag”.
- At a stem cell drive, there is one form with the CBS logo to fill out. There is another envelope with cotton swabs for the donor to give cheek swabs. Nothing else is asked from the donor.
Despite the push from the local community and beyond, a match has yet to be found. Do not let the scam stop you from registering as a stem cell donor. You may be the one who can save Joshua’s life. Register online here, or check out the next stem cell drive here.
(Pictures via Weekes family. Information courtesy of OtherHalf-Chinese Stem Cell Initiative and Global BC.)