If Bong Villarba ever needs a reminder of resiliency, he need look no further than his young nephew.
Since late March, Villarba’s two-year-old nephew, James Policarpio, has been battling leukemia, a diagnosis that has turned into a costly, exhaustive battle complete with regular weekend trips to the hospital for chemotherapy.
"For someone so young, how they can deal with so much — I can’t even take a needle. He puts me to shame," Villarba said in a recent interview.
"He’s not phased by it anymore. He knows he has to show how strong he is for his mom so she wouldn’t hurt so much."
On Sat., Aug. 18, friends are coming together to hold a Bud Spud and Steak Fundraiser at Canad Inns Transcona to support James and his parents, Lanie and Rommel, who live in the North End.
Villarba is hoping for an outpouring of support for his sister, who works with and helps families in Elmwood.
"My sister has always been such a strong supporter and support system for anyone in her life," said Villarba, who lives in Elmwood.
"She’s such a giving person. She’s always there to help anyone looking for help."
The night includes entertainment from Jason Kirkness and Kyla Cederwall, along with a glut of 50/50 and silent auction prizes, including an acoustic guitar signed by the likes of Randy Travis, Platinum Blonde, and local stars Jerry Sereda, Jason Kirkness and Sierra Noble.
Sandra Horyski, one of the event’s organizers, got involved after hearing about James’ plight from her friend, Donna Shuster.
Shuster, who works as a sales manager in Canad Inns corporate office, asked Horyski for help in April when the family was organizing a fundraising event in June.
"She knows I just jump in and help when and where I can," said Horyski, who lives in the North End and works with the St. James-Assiniboia Pioneer Association, which operates Grant’s Old Mill.
"It is all about paying it forward."
The previous fundraiser in June netted about $20,000, Villarba said.
"It’s just amazing how people are so willing to support (James)," he said.
"It’s inspiring and definitely when I was approached I was quite amazed by their willingness to help us out."
The support hasn’t been lost on James, he added.
"He’s very full of energy, very intelligent," he said.
"He understands what’s going on. You can see that he sees that people are there to support him and he’s happy about that."
Tickets are $20, and are available through Horyski at 204-960-4816. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m.
Canad Inns Transcona is located at 826 Regent Ave. W.
To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/PrayForBabyJames.