The quality of one’s life, not the quantity, is what people remember. In that regard, Courtney Druce has secured her rightful place as one who gave so much when it would have been so easy, and understandable, not to do so.
Before succumbing to her fifth battle with cancer at the age of 27, Druce not only inspired and greatly impacted her circle and the community at large, but also partnered with various organizations aimed at giving hope to those who needed hope, more than ever.
Learning from, and adapting to the experience of her 12-year battle with cancer – almost half her life – Druce never missed a beat, not only excelling at Lakefield College School and Queen’s University, but also partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Ronald McDonald House to better the lives of young cancer patients undergoing treatment not unlike her own. Peterborough’s annual Pink in the Rink fundraiser for cancer research owes much to Courtney’s partnership with the Ontario Hockey League and the Peterborough Petes.
At Queen’s, Druce secured a position with Queen’s Disability Services, supporting two students toward their graduation. Post graduation from Queen’s, while undergoing her own cancer treatment, she gifted her time and seemingly boundless energy to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation – promoting, and participating in local events: among them the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival.
In 2014 and together with her father John, Courtney was named honourary co-chair of the American Heart and Stroke Golf Tournament. Pre-pandemic, the Courtney Druce Golf Tournament raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. And as a spokesperson for cervical cancer awareness, Druce’s story pressed home the need for young women to be more vigilant in terms of regular screening.
Courtney Druce’s impact has extended well beyond the Peterborough region. In New Jersey, where she was treated, her name and story is attached to donations to an animal orphanage; in Philadelphia, the home of her beloved Eagles, her inspiring journey has proven a catalyst for annual donations to the bone marrow transplant unit in that city’s children’s hospital, as well as Ronald McDonald House.
Inspired by Courtney’s courage and spirit of selfless giving, Eagles CEO Don Smolenski took Courtney’s team jersey to the 2017 Super Bowl so she could be part of a championship win she predicted in writing, before her passing. To this day, Smolenski continues to impress upon others Courtney’s fight for life, love for others, infectious energy and desire to improve life quality for thousands.
Courtney Druce died April 27th, 2016 eight days shy of her 28th birthday.