(Photo: The Jude family, left to right: Steve, Mason (8), Colby (6) and Dev. They’re sitting on a Buddy Bench at A. Lorne Cassidy elementary school named in memory of Bryce Jude, who passed away in 2012 after a battle with leukemia. Photo via A. Lorne Cassidy School.)
The family of Bryce Jude helped students at A. Lorne Cassidy school unveil a new “Buddy Bench” named in his honour. Jude passed away in 2012 at the age of 7 after a battle with leukemia.
“It’s nice to know his memory will hopefully live on,” says his mother Dev Jude. The Jude family, including Dev’s husband Steve and Bryce’s brothers Mason and Colby, were on hand for the unveiling on Thursday.
“It has been happy. For anyone who loses a child, it’s always nice when you can remember them. Your biggest fear is that they may be forgotten,” says Jude.
She says that the school originally planned to plant a tree in memory of Bryce until she heard about Buddy Benches being installed at other schools. She credits ALC principal Andrew Canham for his support and leadership to make it happen.
“A tree would have been lovely. I asked the principal: ‘What do you think of this idea instead of a tree?’ And that’s what we did. They painted it red because it was Bryce’s favourite colour – the Sens were his favourite team and they came to CHEO to see him,” she says.
“The rules surrounding this bench, called a ‘Buddy Bench’, are pretty simple. Within a few minutes, any student sitting on the bench will to approached by a fellow student and asked to play. In simpler terms, when you don’t have anyone to play with, you go to the Buddy Bench and a friend will come along to play,” explained Canham at the unveiling ceremony for the bench.
Bryce was diagnosed with leukemia a month into Junior Kindergarten, and ended up missing most of the year while he was getting treatment. He attended school for a few months in Senior Kindergarten, and then started his Grade 1 year when he had a relapse. Although he would never return to school, he continued to do schoolwork from home with the support of his teachers.
Meanwhile, the school community organized fundraising events to help the family. Neither Jude nor her husband Steve were able to work because of the time and travel spent helping Bryce in the hospital. Dev Jude says that they were incredibly grateful for the support from friends and family, and their efforts have inspired her family to continue to give back.
“We’ve formed Refuse2lose, initially formed when my husband and I both could not work. [Friends] did some fundraising when Bryce was sick and my only requirement for accepting it was that we would pay it back in time. We try to raise $50,000 each year,” she says.
The entire family gets involved. Bryce’s brothers Mason and Colby took part this week in the Inside Ride, an indoor stationary cycling fundraiser that raised $120,000 towards Candlelighters, in support kids and teens treated at CHEO who are living with cancer.
— A Lorne Cassidy (@ALorneCassidy) May 13, 2016
Dev Jude’s remarks at the opening ceremony on Thursday:
I’m so excited to be here today. Originally, we were going to plant a tree in memory of Bryce and while this was a lovely idea I was reading in the newspaper about a 2nd grader called Christian who had heard about the Buddy Bench all the way from Germany. He presented the idea to his principal who loved the idea – now these Buddy Benches are being installed all across North America. I believe A Lorne Cassidy is the first school in Stittsville to have a Buddy Bench installed and it’s so very special to our family that this bench is in memory of Bryce. He loved school and even though he wasn’t always at school he had a teacher from ALC come to teach him at home and he loved receiving all the cards and support many of you and your families sent him while he was at CHEO.
Making friends or asking a friend to play can be hard sometimes, especially if you are new to the school or your usual friends are not around. If ever you don’t have a friend to play with during recess or feel a bit lonely, all you now have to do is go sit on the bench.
And then this is where ALL of you get to help – each and every person – if you happen to see someone at the bench – ask them if they want to join in your game or come play. Or maybe just check in with them to see if they are OK.
There was a saying on one of the benches that I loved and said “The only way to have a friend is to be one”. Put your hands up if you think you can be a friend? Great! Each and every one of you will help to make this Buddy Bench work – it’s up to all of you and I am confident you will all do a great job as I see how caring and what great friends you all are.
I know Bryce would be happy to see this bench and I love the fact that his brothers Mason and Colby can have it here during their time at ALC. Thank you all so much for honouring Bryce in this way and enjoy the bench!
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