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Lives Lived: April Keyes, 46 Add to ...

Wife, mother, tourism promoter, volunteer. Born May 8, 1966, in Montreal, died April 2, 2013, in Huntsville, Ont., of pancreatic cancer, aged 46.

“What can I do to help?”

This was the first question posed by April when she met the national spokesperson for Pancreatic Cancer Canada, shortly after her diagnosis in September, 2010.

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The meeting was to be one of support for April but, true to her style, she immediately made it about others. Just months later, April had encouraged and inspired many fundraising efforts, ultimately raising thousands of dollars in the fight against her deadly disease.

April’s strength, humour and compassion touched people in every facet of her life. She had a passion for knowledge – especially about the world outside her childhood home of Azilda in Northern Ontario – which led her to the study of hospitality and tourism.

She worked for many years at the Delta Chelsea hotel in Toronto, where her professionalism and enthusiasm were not forgotten. Her extended stays at the Delta while undergoing treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital were made extremely comfortable and affordable by the hotel as a tribute to all she had done for it.

April met the love of her life, Jim Moring, in 1992, and relocated to Muskoka to be with him. Together they raised two strong and independent children, Josh and Amanda. Her family was the centre of her world. Understanding each of her children as individuals, she spent countless hours researching their specific needs and worked tirelessly to ensure those needs were met.

April’s desire to help left an imprint on so many places in Muskoka. As sales manager at Santa’s Village in Bracebridge for 17 years, she created a joyful yet efficient workplace and mentored many young people.

Passionate about her career, she worked as much as possible throughout her illness – even conducting a business meeting in her hospice room.

She volunteered in numerous local organizations and schools, generally behind the scenes, giving assistance wherever it was required.

April was also the centre of a large, tight-knit group of friends and family. Caring for others, even in her final days, she said goodbye, gave advice and laughed with as many people as possible.

Inspired by her spirit, friends created a “Keyes to the Cure” fundraising necklace. Hundreds of people throughout North America are either wearing this necklace or have a tattoo of a key in honour of their connection with April.

Promising to stay in touch from heaven, April said her first question would be, “Where are the postcards and supplies?”

We are sure her first question was, “What can I do to help?” and that she found the postcards, passed them around and reorganized the system.

She wanted to make the world a better place, and her friends and family better people. She accomplished this by leaving, as Amanda said at April’s funeral, “a beautiful stamp on the world.”

Carmen Austrup and Cassie Rodgers were friends of April.

 

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