Meet Curtis

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Estate gifts have an enduring impact, and can make an incredible difference in our community. Take Curtis Crush, who left a legacy of love through an estate gift to CancerCare Manitoba.

Curtis Crush, an American, met the love his life, a Canadian teacher named Ellen de Koning, in 2000 when he was 50 years old. After a long-distance love affair, he moved to Canada to be with her. They married in 2004; the same year Ellen found out an earlier case of renal cancer had recurred and had metastasized. She died in 2007.

The high level of health care his wife received, especially from CancerCare Manitoba, left a poignant mark on Curtis, says his nephew Travis de Koning. When Curtis passed away suddenly in 2010 from a heart attack, he wanted to not only honour his wife’s memory, but also to support the organization that gave her such dignified, caring treatment. So he allocated part of his estate to CancerCare Manitoba.

As the executor of his uncle’s estate, de Koning took his uncle’s wish one step further to honour his aunt’s life as a teacher, and ensured the donation had an educational component. He met with the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and, with the $100,000 gift, created the Curtis and Ellen Crush Studentships Fund.

The fund will support CancerCare Manitoba’s studentship program, which each year attracts and sustains young researchers, says de Koning. He hopes some of the dollars will be used for kidney and renal cancer research.

“I want the fund to do the best possible good,” says de Koning. “I know Curtis and Ellen would want it to leave a legacy and not just be a ‘one and done.’

“She was probably my closest aunt, and it feels good to know that her husband was so moved and influenced by the disease that claimed her life that he was willing to donate a part of his estate to the cause, even though he himself did not have cancer.”

Whether it leads to a cure, better treatments or therapies that cause the disease to go in to remission, you never know what positive effect research may have, says de Koning, but funding is critical.

“Anything that helps CancerCare helps the entire province, not just an individual,” he notes. “It can have a far reaching impact, and if others gave estate gifts, it could have a global impact.”

Adds de Koning, “It doesn’t have to be a huge contribution; in a fight like this every dollar counts. Whether it is $100 or $100,000, when you add up all the donations – it can have a profound effect.”