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One of northern Ont.’s first gay bars to hold fundraiser for local hospice


Sudbury’s premiere ‘gay bar’ and well-known safe space of the city’s LGBTQ2S+ is set to host a major fundraiser for Maison McCulloch Hospice next weekend in honour of the care it showed a beloved patron at the end of his battle with cancer.

Described as a beloved patron and dedicated performer but officials with Zigs Bar, the late Brady Levola's photo now hang prominently in LGBTQ2S+ safe space to honour a life well-lived. (Dan Bertrand/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Brady Levola passed away on Oct. 28, 2023, at the age of 22 after a three-year battle with cancer and Zigs Bar on Elgin Street plans to honour his memory on what would have been his 23rd birthday on April 6.

Brady often referred to Zigs as his home away from home and his photo is now prominently displayed at the LGBTQ2S+ bar.

“Our friends the Levola family lost their son Brady to cancer and the level of care and compassion they received from the folks at the Maison McCulloch Hospice is beyond what you could ever imagine,” said Evie Brisebois, co-owner of Zigs Bar, in a message to CTV News.

“We want to honour Brady and the hospice and all of our other loved ones who have had to use the hospice by coming together as a community to raise as much awareness and money as we can.”

Hospices across Ontario – including those in Greater Sudbury – continue to call on the province for more funding as demand rises and costs increase.

Last year, Maison McCulloch Hospice acknowledged it had been turning to the Sudbury Food Bank for assistance for years and was not raising enough money to operate.

The 20-bed palliative care facility in Sudbury is a non-profit, charitable organization that only receives government funding for paying wages to personal support workers and nurses.

In 2022, the cost to operate the facility was $1.4 million and demand for their services and the cost of providing them has only increased according to officials with Maison McCulloch Hospice.

The support of a community

“We are celebrating an amazing person, for an amazing cause,” said Zigs in a statement early this month.

“Brady had a love and passion for life and we want to celebrate his 23rd birthday by supporting Maison McCulloch Hospice.”

Staff at Zigs Bar said Brady Levola had a love and passion for life -- even during his battle with cancer Brady had become a regular drag performer at the bar. (Supplied/Zigs Bar)

The statement goes on to explain that the hospice was there for Brady and our (Zigs) family at the end of his three-year battle with brain cancer.

“As difficult as it was during his end-of-life journey, we could not imagine being anywhere else,” said Zigs.

“Our family will be forever grateful to the hospice and the love they gave Brady.”

The fundraiser on Saturday will serve as a celebration of life for Brady said staff.

Family forever grateful

Brady’s mother, Anita, echoed the bar’s sentiments.

“Hospice care can sometimes carry a stigma due to misunderstandings or fear of discussing end-of-life issues,” Anita said in a letter she shared with CTV News.

“However, it's important to recognize the valuable support hospice provides to patients and their families during a challenging time.”

Anita said all efforts to educate and promote understanding of end-of-life care can help reduce this stigma.

“I was one of those people who had this thought,” she said.

“I was so mad that Brady was going to be here – until we were there.”

Anita said given the situation it was actually the best place for Brady to be.

Brady Levola passed away on Oct. 28, 2023, at the age of 22 after a three-year battle with cancer. (Supplied/Lougheed's Funeral Home)

“They made those final days mean so much and we are forever grateful,” she said.

Brady’s family gave special thanks to Zigs and Maison McCulloch Hospice in his obituary.

“The family would like to give special thanks to… Zigs for their unwavering and continual support to the Levola family during Brady's entire journey,” the obituary read.

“The family would also like to give special thanks to the nurses and staff at the Maison McCulloch Hospice for their support, compassion and quality care.”

The fundraiser

The admission fees collected on April 6 will be donated directly to Maison McCulloch Hospice and the event will feature door prizes, raffles, games and more with proceeds also going to the hospice.

Doors will open at 8 p.m.

Zigs staff told CTV News that the Sudbury community stepped up with donations for the event.

“On behalf of Brady, we thank you for your support,” said Zigs.

“You are providing loved ones at the end of their journey to go with dignity and support to the loved ones they leave behind.”

The 'Save the Date' post for Brady Levola's 23rd birthday celebration and fundraiser on April 6, 2024. (Facebook/Zigs Bar)

– With files from journalists Ian Campbell and Alana Everson Top Stories

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