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Van Garderen family asking for the gift of time

Langley horticulturalist and 2010 Environmental Hero Bruce Van Garderen is battling stage 4 esophageal cancer. His three children have set up a website where people can donate to help relieve the family
Langley horticulturalist and 2010 Environmental Hero Bruce Van Garderen is battling stage 4 esophageal cancer. His three children have set up a website where people can donate to help relieve the family's financial burden and allow Van Garderen's wife Ridi (Maria) to spend 100 per cent of her time at his side.
— image credit: courtesy dutchgreenthumb.ca

The family of a local gardening expert who has given the gift of nature to dozens of Langley school children over the years, is now asking the community for the gift of time.

Bruce Van Garderen, one of the founding directors of the Maples Discovery Gardens, is battling stage 4 esophageal cancer, which has spread to his lungs and brain.

He is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, but both the aggressive nature of his cancer and the severity of his treatments are taking a vicious toll, and bringing many unpleasant side effects, say his children — Peter, Elsabee and Sebastiaan.

Van Garderen's wife Ridi (Maria) is at his side, supporting him every step of the way, but because both are self-employed, she continues to work to absorb the loss of one income and pay for medications and other treatment-related costs.

Many people have asked how they can help, the couple's children say.

One way to do that, they suggest, is to help relieve some of the couple's financial burden. An online fundraising campaign has been organized at youcaring.com/friendsofbruce

"Your prayers and kind words of support are a great source of strength to Bruce and our family at this difficult time," the three write in their request for help.

"He has always placed his life in God's hands and this time is no different. Perhaps it's God's will that Bruce can serve as testament to his divine healing power and deliver a miraculous recovery. Your continued prayers will be key for such an outcome.

"Alternatively, it might be God's will for Bruce to live out his last days as a reflection of His love and grace which, as you all know, our dad has always done to the fullest.

"That is why we have started this 'Friends of Bruce' fundraising campaign to provide some financial relief for our parents during this challenging time.

"We would like our mom to be able to spend 100 per cent of her time by dad's side and not have to worry about bills and expenses."

As of Thursday afternoon, the campaign had raised just over $2,900 of its $15,000 goal.

Anyone who has cultivated a plot of land at the Maples or just strolled through the garden and enjoyed the solace it provides, likely knows Van Garderen.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, in 1981 he moved with his family to the Fraser Valley. Here, he worked as an accountant and started two import and distribution businesses.

In 2010, he was named one of Langley's Environmental Heroes.

"I have always preferred the soil of the garden to the desk in the office," Van Garderen wrote on his garden consulting website, dutchgreenthumb.ca.

"As a gardener, I believe in all natural green spaces, both botanical and horticultural. I also love to promote the peace and balance that time in the garden can bring to people of all backgrounds and lifestyles."

"Throughout his life Bruce has always given generously from both his wallet and his spirit to share his love of God, nature, life, his community and his fellow man," the family's plea continues.

"His energy and joy has touched many people. We hope that some of that can be redirected back to him now in this difficult time. Each contribution will be a token of gratitude for Bruce's joy of life which he has shared with all of us. Every little bit will help and is very genuinely appreciated."

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