Lunar New Year – The Gift of Giving Back

February 10, 2022

Todd Yuen says to welcome good luck, prosperity, health and wellness this Lunar New Year by gifting a big, fat red envelope to the BC Cancer Foundation. Todd shows his gratitude for the year ahead by giving back to organizations that make a difference. “Cancer is going to touch every one of us,” he says, and donating to BC Cancer will ensure life-saving treatment and technology is there for our loved ones when they need it most.

Todd Yuen and his son

Todd Yuen’s four-year-old son will receive his fair share of bright, shiny red envelopes this Lunar New Year — especially from his grandma, for whom the celebration is a huge deal. But even as a preschooler, he knows it’s not about the money inside these traditional gifts, it’s more about the colour; red in the Chinese community is a symbol of good luck.

Good fortune is something Todd, president of Industrial at Beedie, one of the most successful property developers in Canada, thinks a lot about. And not just during Lunar New Year. “Whatever success, either personally, financially or professionally, that I’ve had, there’s a lot of luck involved,” says Todd. One of the ways he shows gratitude is by giving back to his community through the BC Cancer Foundation. A cause he’s felt connected to since he was young.

“I was such a nerd,” Todd admits, fondly recalling his 13-year-old self, who decided to organize a neighbourhood fireworks display. “I walked around the block and collected money to pay for the fireworks and anything I had left over I promised to donate to cancer research. I remember going from door to door and everyone said, ‘Oh my gosh, of course, here’s some cash.’”

But Todd says people didn’t empty their pockets in anticipation of a show of rockets and Roman candles, instead, they all told him about an uncle, brother, son, daughter or friend who had received a diagnosis.

“Cancer is going to touch every one of us. All of us at some point are going to have to personally deal with it.” For Todd, that’s meant losing his best friend, Karlo, to colon cancer three years ago, and his mom’s more recent battle with cancer.

“It just makes sense, if something is so prevalent out there and touching so many lives, let’s try and find a way to make it go away.” Todd is inspired to do so by his CEO, Ryan Beedie, a longtime supporter of BC Cancer. Ryan, through the Beedie Foundation, helped fund a breath-based test for COVID-19 (which was initially developed by researchers to detect early lung cancer), and he has created a company culture of giving back.

“That ethos, it just sort of trickles down. When you see that from the very top, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore and becomes infectious.” Todd adds that there’s always some sort of fundraiser going on in their building, often backed by a generous matching campaign by Beedie.

“I believe it’s the responsibility of people who have the ability to do so to make contributions to places that matter,” says Todd, and for him that’s BC Cancer. “What strikes me most, in addition to the quality of care they provide, is the empathy that people show there. I just look at all of the physicians and the nurses and all the other people who have been around my mom; they’ve all just been so positive.”

“My mom has a medical background. She was an immunologist, so she asks a lot of questions and they’re just so patient. BC Cancer has made the best out of some of the worst times of my life. They really go above and beyond.”

Beyond all the gifts of good luck, prosperity, health and happiness that his son receives this year, Todd wants him to truly recognize how fortunate he is. “He’s adopted. His birth mother was from El Salvador and she fought her way into the United States. More than anything I want him to understand how lucky we are to have him, but I also want him to know he’s in a very fortunate place as well and to take that responsibility seriously. I don’t care what he does in his life, he just needs to be a contributing valuable member of society, to have empathy, and to take care of people. It’s important.”

Join Todd in his drive to support the life-saving work at BC Cancer by donating to the BC Cancer Foundation today.