Winnipeg man showcasing gigantic pumpkins for Cancer research

A Winnipeg man is hoping you’ll pay a visit to his driveway to set your sights on his unusually large pumpkins.

Chris Okell began showcasing and even carving the large pumpkins as a way to raise money for cancer research.

The idea, he says came from his mom — a Halloween enthusiast.

His mother, Marietta Okell, worked out of Eatons Place, and Okell says that’s where one of his fondest memories of Halloween is.

“When the building started to close down, she turned them into a fun zone for inner city kids to enjoy free candy and trick or treating inside a warm building, so right there I was definitely hooked,” Okell said.

Merietta was later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 and passed away in 2010.

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Okell decided to carry on his mother’s love of Halloween while raising money for cancer research.

From Winkler to Lac Du Bonnet, donations of large pumpkins have been given to Okell to carve and show off for seven years during the fundraiser, Pumpkin Promise.

Pumpkins pictured from Chris Okells cancer research fundraiser.
Pumpkins pictured from Chris Okells cancer research fundraiser. Chris Okell

“This year I have two 1,300 pounders. She would have been right beside herself.”

The pumpkins will be out in Okell’s driveway on Halloween for residents looking to get a socially distanced picture.

“She’s to blame for this, and I’ll do it every year for as long as can.”

Okell says while the event is fun, there’s always a box of Kleenex nearby.

“I’ve had parents come and pull me aside and say the little girl who is dropping a toonie or a five-dollar bill in the bucket is fighting (cancer) herself.”

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So far Okell has raised more than $30,000 for cancer research.

CancerCare Manitoba created Okell a website for people to donate funds virtually, if they are unable to visit his driveway at 39 Baisinger Dr. on Halloween.

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