“I knew I had to do something to keep Elliott with me, to keep his legacy alive.” – Elliott’s mother, Kathy Hogan
In 2015, Elliott Dagg, a 19-year-old who was much loved by his coaches, the children he supervised at summer camps and his family, lost his year-long fight with leukemia.
“I learned all these great things about Elliott after he passed,” says his mother, Kathy Hogan. “One of his coaches told me, ‘If I could pick the people on my team, they’d all be Elliott.’”
When Elliott, a graduate of Reynolds Secondary School, was in charge of children at Braefoot Park Community Association, he’d literally have kids hanging off him because they so much wanted to be around the rugby, lacrosse, soccer and baseball player.
But it was football where Elliott touched down big. As a defensive end with the Victoria Spartans, in his 4th year of football he was awarded “Rookie of the Year” and chosen to attend the Senior Bowl, which was a BC Lions training camp. While he was being treated for cancer at Vancouver General Hospital, Elliott had visits from the BC Lions, as well as the Vancouver Canucks, though hockey was a sport he didn’t play.
Over his many weeks of therapy, Elliott never complained.
“He did get angry. In hospital, occasionally he’d tell me he was scared. But he was a quiet kid, almost too much the strong and silent type. I called him my gentle giant,” says Hogan. “When he was six, he could piggyback me around my house.”
It was Elliott’s strength that delayed his cancer diagnosis.
”He was probably one of the most fit people I knew. He didn’t get sick when he was a kid,” Hogan recalls. “The doctors believed that because he was so healthy, his body naturally suppressed the cancer.”
The day Elliott died, his room was packed with about 30 family members. Only two weeks earlier, he had been home for Christmas.
“He was on his way to getting better,” Hogan says. In a rare biological match, his sister Emily, 23, was going to be a bone-marrow donor. “We thought we were on the road to recovery.”
Elliott returned to Vancouver General on December 29 but on January 2, doctors said that the cancer had spread. By January 4, the family was told there was nothing more doctors could do. At 1:06 a.m. on January 6, the modest, charismatic young man took his last breath. Through the anguish, Hogan felt another pain.
“My biggest fear, as a mom, was that we’d forget about him. I knew I had to do something to keep Elliott with me, to keep his legacy alive. I knew it had to be something in sports,” she says.
Thus, the Remembering Elliott Dagg (RED) Fund was born with the goal to provide bursaries and scholarships for youth in sport and education.
In May 2015, Hogan was given $25,000 from the Urban Development Institute, where she is Executive Director. The UDI holds an annual golf tournament and chose to give the 2015 proceeds to Hogan.
“They’ve been incredibly supportive,” Hogan says.
Hogan was aware that she needed to form a charitable foundation and also realized how time-consuming it would be to oversee. A friend made her aware of the Victoria Foundation.
“It was exactly what I was looking for,” she says. “It allows me to fulfill my dream to set up a legacy for Elliott.”
The $25,000 was placed in a donor-advised fund, which gives the family flexibility in directing the funds. Another $6,000 was raised in September 2015 at their annual used sports-equipment sale at the Braefoot Park Community Association. This year’s sale of gently used sports gear will be held on Saturday, September 10.
“It’s been a very rewarding and heartwarming experience to work with Kathy in memory of someone who died at such a young age,” says Sara Neely, the Foundation’s Director of Philanthropic Services.
Neely, who attended the inaugural sale of sports equipment, was impressed with the tremendous support.
“It was the coming together of the community to honour Elliott’s memory. And it was amazing to see the strength of the family to pull through this. They focused their grief on something positive,” she says.
“Elliott was a very strong, charming individual,” adds Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson. “The idea for the fund is to honour his true spirit, what he would have liked to have funded, money for sport and education for young people.”
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