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Column: This is why Sudbury is greater

It didn’t get many comments from readers, though many of you did share it on your Facebook pages — which is fantastic, because the people involved really deserve the recognition.
Three-year-old Abel Nyabeze was diagnosed earlier this summer with leukemia at the same time as his family's home was undergoing renovations. The house is now being completely refinished thanks to the help of the community. Supplied photo.
It didn’t get many comments from readers, though many of you did share it on your Facebook pages — which is fantastic, because the people involved really deserve the recognition.

There’s a family out in Lively going through a really tough time right now. Carmen and Charles Nyabeze’s three-year-old son Abel — the youngest of their seven children — is at Toronto Sick Kids receiving chemotherapy. The sweet little boy with the soft smile and big dark eyes is battling leukemia.

As a father, my heart breaks for this family.

Making matters worse, earlier this month when we brought you this story, Charles was still at home instead of down in Toronto with his wife and son. He was finishing off a job repairing the leaky foundation on his house.

Obviously, the man wanted to be with his wife and son, but life doesn’t always — probably rarely — deals us the hand we want to play, so Charles did what he knew needed to be done.

Needless to say, it was a really tough time for a fellow Sudburian. But here’s where the story turns on a dime.

When an email about the Nyabeze’s fell into my inbox a few weeks ago, it confirmed for me that, despite all its other issues, Sudbury was the right place for my own family.

You see, while backfilling around the foundation, Charles was chatting with his neighbour, Kyle Holford, when he broke down in tears. Although likely taken aback by the man’s show of emotions, Holford listened intently as Charles filled him in on what his family was going through.

Putting myself in Holford’s shoes, I imagine he knew what needed to be done even before the conversation was over.

The Vale employee couldn’t let the situation stand. Telling Charles he should be with his family, Holford decided he’d get the backfilling done and the yard leveled himself. No cape, no spandex tights, just a man doing what he could to help a neighbour, but a hero nonetheless.

He called Mary Lou Hargan at Turf Scapes to ask if he could hire some workers to help him do that. When she heard the story, Hargan made a few phone calls, which set off a chain reaction of calls and pretty soon something amazing happened.

With support from Turf Scapes, Valley Nursery Sod, Equipment North, Ethier Sand and Gravel, friends and neighbours, the community pitched in. Soon, the yard was not only leveled, but sodded. Local contractors donated labour and materials to fix the front step. Plans include transforming the covered porch into a bedroom to give the large family some breathing room inside the house.

Support continues to pour in. You can help, too, by donating to the Nyabeze Informal Trust at any branch of the Sudbury Credit Union. You can also contact Holford directly at 705-626-5194.

Regardless of the myriad challenges Sudbury faces — and there are no shortage of those, don’t get me wrong — this is a community chock full of good, big-hearted people, people who will give selflessly to make their neighbours’ lives a little better.

That’s the kind of community we live in. And that’s what makes Sudbury greater.

Mark Gentili is the managing editor of Northern Life and