March 19, 2019

SpookyToursBY SARA SASILA

Three siblings turned their home into a haunted house to raise money for cancer research.

Kia, Dhillon and Leela Taggar have been showcasing their own haunted house for the past five years. It all started when their three-year-old friend was diagnosed with cancer. He overcame the battle but that didn’t stop these siblings from continuing their support.
The haunted house ran from Oct. 16 to 18.

The first Spooky Tours started in 2009, when their garage was converted into a small haunted house for the children in their neighbourhood to attend. They raised $5.
Last year, they expanded their tour into the garage and the basement. Former Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran attended as well as CTV’s Nadia Stewart. They raised $500.

This year, their sixth, the Taggars transformed three floors of their house into one big scary haunted house for children and Halloween lovers to enjoy. Their theme was “Circus Gone Wrong” which resulted in clowns, dead dolls and more.

Jayne Hembruff, the mother of the three children, said she couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished.

“Their passion to help is incredible,” she said. “My children have been touched by cancer from both sides of their family as well as friends so it’s amazing to see them take action for something they feel so strongly about.”

The idea of Spooky Tours as a fundraiser was created when the Taggars would hear about how much money Relay for Life raised.

“My children wanted to do more to help put an end to cancer by helping to fund research,” said Hembruff.

This year, they gathered 25 volunteers to help make the haunted house the best yet. They also had the support of Value Village, Spirit Halloween and Home Depot, who have generously donated props, costumes and craft supplies.

Door prizes totalling $600 were donated by local businesses such as Starbucks, Canadian Tire and National Sports.

“We have put in more 1,000 hours of work for this,” said Hembruff.

There were three levels to the haunted house. Level 1 was for children and level 3 was for those who were brave enough to enter.

Sixteen-year-old Kia said she loved putting a show on for everyone. “I hope people enjoy what we have all created.”

Hembruff said her children make a list of people they want to attend and do everything they can to entice those people to come.

“This year they wanted the past and present mayor to attend,” said Hembruff, adding the two mayors did show up.

Over 100 guests were courageous enough to go through Spooky Tours including Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Waterloo MP candidates Bardish Chagger and Diane Freeman and Canadian Cancer representative Sarah Bradshaw. “It’s so refreshing to see children care so much about raising money for cancer,” said Bradshaw.

Although they didn’t reach their goal of $1,000, they raised $298 for cancer research.

“I am so proud of my children for finding their passion and putting their heart and sole into this project to help fight cancer,” said Hembruff.

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