Sports Kidney donation highlights close-knit nature of Canada's curling community
Obituary: Dr. James Hasegawa (1930-2021) was a pillar of Beaconsfield community
Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle paid tribute to Dr. Jimmy (James) Hasegawa, a longtime city councillor and community builder who recently died at age 91. “Jim made a big contribution to the city of Beaconsfield,” said the mayor. “We’ve lost a very strong member of our community.” A celebration of Hasegawa’s life was held Saturday at the Collins Clarke MacGillivray White Funeral Home in Pointe-Claire. Hasegawa served for 23 years on Beaconsfield city council, from 1986 to 2009, representing the District 1 area of Beaurepaire. “He was a very well-respected member of council and well-liked in the community,” Bourelle said.
There is an unending amount of stories and anecdotes about the curling community in Canada and how – in many ways – it could be thought of as one big family.
Perhaps the story of curlers Adam Freilich and Charles Gagnon best exemplifies this.
Frielich, 28, is the third for Team Comeau out of New Brunswick. Gagnon, 49, is the lead for Team Lawton out of Quebec.
For years, the two have been competitors on the ice – but this past week they became lifelong teammates.
Freilich has been battling stage five kidney failure for the last couple of years, desperately trying to find a donor. This past May, his team took to social media putting out the call for anyone who might be a match and able to donate a kidney.
Sask.'s Team Dunstone looking to punch ticket to Olympic trials after back-to-back Brier bronze medals
Curling teams around Canada are gearing up to punch their ticket to the Olympic trials in Saskatoon ahead of the Beijing 2022 winter Olympics — including Saskatchewan’s Team Dunstone, who won bronze medals at the last two Briers. From Sept. 22 to 26, 10 teams will compete in Ottawa at the Canadian Curling Trials Direct-Entry Event, while another eight teams will compete in the Canadian Curling Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event. A total of three women's and two men's teams will compete in Olympic trials in Saskatoon, hoping to represent Canada at the Olympics.
Gagnon answered that call.
On Tuesday, Freilich and Gagnon underwent successful kidney transplant surgery.
"It seems like a miracle," Freilich said from his hospital bed on CBC Sports' That Curling Show on Friday.
"I'm feeling great. It's been a few days and the doctors are all happy with how things are going."
Gagnon, already home and recovering, was also a guest on the show and was beaming as he listened to Freilich.
"Adam has said thank you a million times and I don't know how to reply to that because all I can say is it's the right thing to do. It just felt like the right thing to do," Gagnon said.
Frielich says when Gagnon initially reached out he was in disbelief that this could actually happen.
"I didn't quite believe him. I thought it was some sick prank at first because it's been two years of friends and family getting tested and coming so close with nothing working out," Frielich said.
Long curling qualifying road to Beijing Olympics makes stop in Ottawa
Jill Brothers had been hoping there might be an outside chance her team could somehow find its way into the Home Hardware Curling Pre-Trials field next month in her hometown of Liverpool, N.S. A five-time participant at the women's national championship, Brothers thought her foursome might get the nod if another rink declined its berth. She was floored to receive a recent email with an unexpected invitation to play in a new qualification event with two Pre-Trials spots on the line. "I jumped out of my chair at work and screamed like a schoolgirl," Brothers said Wednesday. "My co-worker was terrified.
He says in March 2020 he first started noticing symptoms – itchy skin, fatigue, muscle cramps were plaguing him. Frielich says he thought it was allergies. It turned out to be stage five kidney failure.
'A silent disease'
"For kidney diseases, it's about one in 10 people who suffer from it in Canada. So it does affect a lot of people," Freilich said.
"It's actually a silent disease. People only start getting symptoms when they're under 50 per cent functioning."
He was down to just 15 per cent.
But Gagnon stepped up.
"Something Adam won't tell you is he should have been in dialysis a long time ago. He's been fighting hard. It was nice to be able to do something for someone who has such a bright future," Gagnon said.
"Way back when I was going to school I was working in a warehouse and if you can believe it I was delivering things to people who were on dialysis. I saw first-hand what people go through. So to be able to put that off and do something for Adam was pretty important to me."
Howard served as coach at 2018 Olympics, hopes to return to Games as a player
Glenn Howard enjoyed the Olympic experience as a coach for Great Britain at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Now the Canadian curling legend hopes to get back to the Winter Games as a player. The four-time world champion can take a step toward that goal at this week's Men’s Trials Direct Entry event in Ottawa, the first stop on the qualification road to the 2022 Olympics. Two direct berths to the Tim Hortons Olympic Curling Trials in late November are on the line. "Our potential is endless," Howard said. "We can beat anybody and we know that. That's the attitude we take going into every event.
It was an emotional meeting when they finally arrived at the hospital to prepare for their surgeries.
"I ran and gave him a big hug when we finally saw each other at the hospital. It was just unbelievable that it was actually happening," Frielich said.
Gagnon had spent the last number of months preparing for the surgery and getting his health in peak condition.
"I'm a little older than Adam; well, a lot older than Adam," Gagnon said.
"If I can put something positive out there, if you want to call it karma, then great. It's something I could do."
On Tuesday, Freilich got the call Gagnon's surgery was successful and it was his time to go under the knife. He posted a video of himself being wheeled down the hospital hallway in a stretch with family by his side and the Rocky theme song playing.
"I just had tears in my eyes," Freilich said. "The surgeon told me the first thing I said when I woke up for surgery was 'is this real?'
"It's real. I have a kidney. And then I said, 'let's celebrate and party.'"
It'll be a number of weeks before the two can get back on the ice and resume their curling battles with their teams.
"We were joking about an event in Oakville (Ont.) this weekend and that he should come pick me up because he's already out of the hospital," Frelich said.
"It's a good five or six weeks before I hit the ice. Charles looks like he's good to go right now," Freilich said.
Gagnon's dream of one day curling in Canada's biggest bonspiel is seemingly now with Freilich.
"I figured this was the best way to get a part of me to the Brier, eventually," Gagnon said.
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