Caring for community

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

There is hope for humanity after all, because not even a football rivalry has gotten in the way of compassion. Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer, who yesterday made his first public appearance since being diagnosed with throat cancer last month, revealed that support has been pouring in from everywhere.

Including Montreal.

"I didn't know that Lyle Bauer had Alouette fans," Bauer said. "It's amazing. There are some in Hamilton and across the country.

"The e-mails, the letters, the well wishes ... the support has just been overwhelming, and great strength comes from that."

Bauer gets tremendous support because of his high-profile status, but he and the Bombers are doing whatever they can to give all cancer patients a boost. The Winnipeg Football Club announced yesterday that it will host the CFL coach of the year luncheon next month and donate all proceeds to CancerCare Manitoba.

"We are absolutely delighted by the tremendous support shown by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers," said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, the president and CEO of CancerCare Manitoba.

The luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 24 at Canad Inns Polo Park. WFC chairman Gene Dunn hopes the event will raise at least $20,000.

Bauer is currently in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation therapies, which will last five more weeks. Aside from a slightly weakened voice, he didn't look any different yesterday.

"It's quite a journey," said Bauer, who has lost seven pounds. "Some days are better than others, but I've still been working.

"... It's moving along well. We know there's going to be some tougher days down the road, but they are taking very, very good care of me down at CancerCare."

That was evident when Bauer discussed the impact that CancerCare has had on his life.

"When I was told that I had cancer, it felt like the bottom had fallen out of my life," he said. "I can tell you I've never felt so alone, even with the great support of my family and my wife, Heidi.

"Well, that itself couldn't have been further -- absolutely further -- from the truth. What I found is the cancer community is an immense one, very highly (populated).

"... Since I was told I had cancer, I have never been alone."

Later, in typical Bauer fashion, he just had to throw out a football reference when asked if he was winning his battle against cancer.

"We're doing OK," he said. "We're going to win the fight -- and then we're going to Vancouver (for the Grey Cup)."

Tickets for the coach of the year luncheon, which has been held in Edmonton for the past 44 years, cost $55 for one or $500 for a table of 10.

They are available at the Bomber office (784-2583) or on the Internet (www.bluebombers.com).


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