Mission of Love

Mission of Love

To honour the legacy of Thea Roelofsen, friends and family aim to change the world for those who have felt the impact of a cancer diagnosis.

By Elizabeth Chorney-Booth • Photography by Jared Sych

Typically, teens tend to hang out with other teenagers. But for Carson Taylor, he welcomed having a special friendship with his young neighbour, Thea Roelofsen, who would run to meet him as he pulled into his driveway after a long day of work or school.

Thea’s exuberance and bright spirit always put Carson in a playful mood. He’d chase Thea, affectionately known as T-Bird, around the yard or invite her over for a “Princess Noodle Party” where they’d eat a cup of noodles along with Carson’s two younger sisters.

“Thea was like a third sister to me,” Carson says. “Seeing her always made my day better, no matter how tired or grumpy I was. It was impossible not to be happy when she was around.”

In 2016, Carson, along with the rest of the close-knit neighbourhood, was devastated when Thea was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. She passed away 18 months later at just eight years old.

Carson, now 28, remains close with Thea’s parents, Patrick and Lesley Roelofsen, and her sister, Brynn, who keep Thea’s name and spirit alive through the Thea Roelofsen Legacy Fund, administered by the Calgary Foundation.

To raise money for the Fund that supports children’s cancer charities, the family published a children’s book about Thea’s journey and earthly mission, The Adventures of T-Bird the Tiny Titan, and they host an annual T-Cup hockey tournament that doubles as a celebration of Thea’s favourite sport.

While she was undergoing cancer treatment, Thea became friends with pro hockey player Dougie Hamilton. In honour of Thea, Hamilton generously designed custom T-bird-inspired hockey sticks with proceeds going to the Fund.

Carson always participates in the fundraisers. “Carson’s a special individual,” says Patrick, Thea’s father. “He’s thoughtful in his actions. He’s sincere. He selflessly took on a big brother role with Thea, even though he has younger siblings.”

Recently, Carson took his thoughtfulness to another level. His hair was always on the longer side, but he really let it grow during the pandemic. By the time the Roelofsen family began organizing the 2023 T-Cup hockey tournament, Carson’s 14-inch mane was long enough to donate to make a wig for someone undergoing cancer treatment.

Carson would only cut his hair once he raised $10,000 through Trim for T-Bird, his online fundraising campaign. After meeting his goal in less than two weeks, he decided to increase the amount, eventually raising more than $25,000 for the Thea Roelofsen Legacy Fund.

“I just wanted to help a little bit and do a small part,” Carson says. “To see it take off and know the extra money is going to help more families and more kids was the most rewarding thing ever.”

“The money that gets raised for local pediatric oncology organizations is a tremendous way to give back to our community,” says Patrick. “Seeing the overwhelming support of people wanting to participate really speaks to what an impact Thea had on others.”

“Thea was the happiest sick child you would ever meet,” says Lesley, Thea’s mother. “She battled with a fearlessness, confidence and spirit that left even her doctors in awe. As a parent of a lost child, you never want them to be forgotten. It has been amazing to see our growing and supportive community gather to share their common love for Thea.”