A Vancouver peewee hockey coach says he’s “amazed and overwhelmed” by the response to a video put together by his team to help him find a living kidney donor.
Stephen Gillis said the video is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for him.
“Help us help our coach,” team members dressed for a game say in unison in the video.
Some members of the 11- to 12-year-old mixed gender team hold up message placards in the video, including: “Coach Stephen is really sick” and “We need to find a donor for Coach Stephen.”
Gillis is the coach of The Spirit, a Vancouver Minor Hockey Association peewee A2 team.
In an interview Monday, he said many people are surprised that he needs a new kidney, considering his active lifestyle.
At 25 years old, Gillis was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease.
“My condition, based on my blood work is getting worse but I don’t necessarily feel too bad.”
He said he started feeling “a bit weird” last July and his hands began to cramp. Gillis chalked down his symptoms to dehydration.
His doctor gave him a different diagnosis.
“They let me know that my blood was basically vinegar and that it wasn’t being cleaned for a while,” he said. “I developed a rare kidney disease because of my Crohn’s disease.”
After spending some time in the hospital, he said his kidney function came up to about 14 per cent but it’s now back down.
Gillis, 38, will soon have to start dialysis to keep his blood clean.
The captain of the team, Jordan Stewart, and his mother approached Gillis and asked him about next steps for his health and Gillis suggested he might make a “selfie video” that was “not too sad.”
Stewart said he was heartbroken to learn of his coach’s health condition.
“We just thought it would be a really good thing to make a video for him because he’s such a great coach and he’s a really caring and great person and make the video for him and hopefully find him a kidney,” Jordan said.
The team came together asking for a kidney donor in the video that has now racked up thousands of views.
In the video, the players say Gillis is an “awesome” coach who teaches them to be good people and good players.
“Stephen really needs a kidney. If he doesn’t find one he might not be able to coach,” says one of the players in the video.
Another player says he knows this is a lot to ask but there might be people out there who are willing to help.
“Please help us help our coach,” they sign off as a group.
Stewart said he hoped the video helps Gillis find a kidney and he’s back to being healthy soon.
“He’s such a good person. He never let it show. He has such a great attitude,” Jordan said. “He was just trying to make himself better as a coach and us better as people and players.”
Gillis said the response to the video has been “amazing.”
“It’s very beautiful. They’re very kind and their kindness has been very overwhelming,” he said his voice breaking with emotion.