Just after being promoted to Sergeant in 1996, Peter Sloly received a call from then Staff Inspector Keith Forde requesting assistance with the organization of police security for the annual Camp Jumoke walk-a-thon at Nathan Phillips Square.
For the last 19 years, Sloly – who is a Toronto Police Service (TPS) deputy chief – has been associated with the organization in some capacity. When he’s not walking to raise money, he raises funds on his own as he did a few years ago, when he secured $20,000 sponsorship from the Carpenters District Council of Ontario.
Established in 1994 by the Association for the Advancement of Blacks in Health Sciences, Camp Jumoke is the only camp of its kind in Canada that serves the unique emotional and health care needs of children with sickle cell disease.
“While sickle cell disease has not touched my family directly, it touches my community and my heart,” said Sloly in the feature address at the organization’s 11th annual Beverly Mascoll Memorial Scholarship award dinner last Saturday night in Woodbridge.
Sloly reiterated the TPS support for Camp Jumoke and urged young sickle cell sufferers to persevere despite the odds they face.
“With three back surgeries, I have constantly had to manage pain and be aware of my limitations,” he said. “But I have not allowed that to hold me back from the things I want to accomplish. You can do the same.”
Mascoll, an Order of Canada recipient and president of Mascoll Beauty Supply Ltd. who passed away in May 2001, was a staunch supporter of Camp Jumoke, which relies on private funding for its initiatives.
It costs almost $2,200 to send a child to camp for two weeks.
This year’s $2,000 scholarship winner is 14-year-old Ayanna Joseph-Stanislaus, who is Camp Jumoke’s 2014-15 child ambassador.
The Ajax High School Grade 10 student was diagnosed with sickle cell when she was six months old.
Sickle cell disease is a life-threatening and hereditary blood disorder that causes malformation of red blood cells that become distorted when they transmit oxygen through the body.
Young people suffer unbearable bone pain and miss substantial classroom time because of frequent hospitalizations.
“Sometimes the pain is intolerable, but I have been fortunate in that I have not had to miss school a lot,” said Joseph-Stanislaus, who has been a Camp Jumoke participant for the last four years. “I don’t allow the disease to affect me socially, but it hampers me physically sometimes when I am in gym as I am unable to keep up with other students.”
A total of 15 young people have benefited from Beverly Mascoll Memorial Scholarships since the program was created a decade ago.