Follow your dreams and don't be deterred was the stirring message Chantelle Bacon, an Alumna of Distinction, delivered this past week to graduates at the fall 2019 session of Convocation at St. Clair College.
Bacon, whose son Mason became a local symbol of a Super Hero after fighting a year-long battle with a form of childhood cancer, gave a moving speech during the second session of convocation in Windsor, telling the graduates to expect the unexpected along their journey in life and never give up during the darkest times.
"Because of Mason, I stand before you, to let you know that although life may not go exactly to plan, it may be bumpy and at some times you may want to give up, know that it's okay to not know where to go next. It's okay to fail and it's okay to allow yourself time to find your way," she said.
Bacon and her husband Iain Macri laid the groundwork for the Fight Like Mason Foundation following Mason's death in 2016. Chantelle and Iain took Mason through a journey as a superhero who believed all of the medicine and equipment which was part of each day was truly giving him superpowers. The two, also parents to Miller and Piper, are now focused on raising awareness and funds to educate people about the type of childhood cancer that took Mason's life and to eradicate the disease.
The foundation has a patent on the special IV Poles that are designed around Super Hero themes. "I made him a promise before he passed," Bacon said. "I told him just because he no longer would be with us, didn't mean his fight was over. I promised to fight for him and all other families and children who faced childhood cancer. I took his determination, his bravery and his strength and challenged myself."
Bacon was honoured as an Alumni of Distinction earlier this year and was the first graduate from the Hairstyling program to receive the award, which is given out annually to alumni who've excelled in their fields. Bacon graduated in 2014 and little did she know that not too long after graduation, her life would change dramatically and she would take on a new challenge.
She told the new graduates that rising up to the challenges in life, as Mason did, will be what sets them apart in the crowd. "You never give up hope, you always fight, no matter what life throws at you and you can always pick yourself up again, even in the worst circumstances."
Three sessions of convocation were held this past week, with approximately 1,200 students crossing the stage to accept their diplomas. In total, there were more than 2,200 students who were eligible to graduate from programs in Business, Health Sciences, Nursing, Skilled Trades, Media, Art and Design and Community Studies.
College President Patti France continued Bacon's message of giving back with her own words of advice to the grads: "Financial security comes from what you receive...But true and comprehensive happiness comes from what you give...Eventually, find some time for yourself and for others. Hook up with a charity, coach a kids' sports team...find something in your neighbourhood or your community that you can help to improve. It will be that sort of involvement that will truly keep you grounded and happy."