The first words Justin Webb ever spoke weren’t as important or meaningful as the three words he uttered last weekend.
But Justin is no child. He’s a young man who recently turned 20.
I first met him when he was 14. He was a rail-thin Grade 9 student playing football on a pretty good Timberline junior-varsity team.
Justin wasn’t one of our key players, but he contributed to a winning season. The next year was different.
He was still thin, but he had sprouted to 6’3” and was definitely one of the team leaders. While it wasn’t a great season, it was certainly memorable for me, the coach. We lost every game, but it was one of my most enjoyable seasons, all because of the players, like Justin, who were totally committed to improving every day.
While we didn’t win on the field, these young men were learning how to become real winners in the game of life. Hard work, determination, team work – all things that will benefit them in the many years to come after football. Justin went on to play two outstanding seasons with the varsity team and then graduated from Timberline in 2009. Rather than head straight off to university, he chose to remain in Campbell River and worked at Quality Foods while his girlfriend Katie completed Grade 12.
Then, last August, they were on their way together to Prince George to attend the University of Northern British Columbia. Always a smart kid, Justin was doing well in the Environmental Sciences program when he started to notice something unusual. He was having problems with his left arm and leg. They weren’t working like they were supposed to and, heading into the new year, the condition progressively became worse.
They thought it might be multiple sclerosis. They were wrong. It was a primitive neuroectodermal tumor in his brain; a spiderweb-like tumour – unlike a lump or mass – which usually occurs in young children.
It’s also inoperable. And as the web spread, Justin became unable to walk or even talk. He was taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria where last week he began a month-long regime of radiation treatments, to be followed by chemotherapy.
His mom Diane and dad Art are there to support Justin, and they need your help too. On Saturday, April 30, there will be a fundraiser for Justin Webb in the Timberline cafeteria. Details are still being worked out and this is a heads-up to make some time that day to help support a very nice young man. Watch the Mirror for more information or visit my Facebook page. While you’re at it, say hello to Justin on his page.
There’s also some good news to report. Diane told me that Justin was able to start speaking again on the weekend. Just a few words but none more meaningful than the three he told his dad, “I love you.”