Parker: Kids Cancer Care hands baton to capable hands of new CEO

Tracey Martin is eager to continue her dedicated predecessor’s passionate work of caring for kids with cancer

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How do you find the right person to follow in the footsteps of a woman who has dedicated 30 years of her life to running an organization that has changed the course of children’s cancer care?

Kids Cancer Care has succeeded, by recruiting Tracey Martin as the new CEO upon the retirement of founder Christine McIver.

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When her own son, Derek, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five, McIver began her own passionate campaign to help fight the disease and care for kids in their fight to recovery.

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Her concern evolved into an amazing 30 years of outstanding service to children and families affected by childhood cancer.

It began by volunteering her time from her basement office. After her son passed away at the age of 10, she threw her energy into helping other families with sick children by launching Kids Cancer Camp. It expanded to the Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta in 1999 and has grown to a nationally recognized organization that has raised more than $70 million, runs a hugely successful and growing Camp Kindle, and invests in innovative research programs.

McIver has been the spirited motivator of an equally passionate team that has grown to 40 in the Calgary office and year-round camp.

Kids Cancer Care has become a tremendous legacy to her name, and Martin is keen to ensure the organization continues with the same spirit of fervent energy.

Martin hails from Winnipeg where she earned her bachelor of commerce degree at the University of Manitoba. After some adventure travel to countries that included Cambodia and India, she moved to Calgary, worked in corporate branding and in 1999 joined the City of Calgary as co-ordinator of marketing and business development. During a chance meeting with Sue Scott, she heard of plans for a new organization to be involved in services to the community. Martin joined Scott before the opening of what was originally named Cardel Place, later changing its name to Vivo for Healthier Generations.

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In her 19 years with Vivo, Martin has served in almost all positions and was responsible for the expansion planning and program design.

What next? Martin felt it was time for a reset and resigned from Vivo at the end of 2023, intending to spend more time with her son and ponder a new step in her career.

She did have time for a quick vacation, but after getting a call about the upcoming CEO vacancy at Kids Cancer Care and exploring what the position was all about, Martin let her name stand and is overjoyed at being offered a new and deeply meaningful opportunity.

Martin took over the reins this week and has already become deeply involved in driving the vision of her new role — and there’s plenty of things to keep her hopping.

“Behind the scenes, I have been getting to know everyone, listening and learning about the magical work we do. I look forward to honouring and building on the incredible 30-year legacy that you — our staff, volunteers, families, partners, donors, sponsors and our founder Christine McIver — have built together.”

She teases with: “We’re also embarking on a new initiative that we’re launching later this month. Stay tuned. It’s super exciting and will present an opportunity for our community and Calgary to come together in a shared initiative to create unforgettable experiences and opportunities for children and families.

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“I am looking forward to meeting all of our partners over the next year to understand what outcomes we’re achieving and what more we can do to improve children, youth and family’s health and well-being together in the future.”

Thanks to community support, Kids Cancer Care has invested $15.3 million in research initiatives in Calgary that are advancing critical insights and innovative therapies for children with cancer.

“More than 75 per cent of childhood cancer survivors live with at least one cancer-related health issue for the rest of their lives,” Martin says.

“Our reason for being is to support and empower young people affected by this disease beyond their diagnosis and treatment to help them thrive in body, mind and spirit — shaping young lives by providing unforgettable experiences that foster courage, strength, resilience and imagination.

Martin has big shoes to fill but is already off and running.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622.

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