Ryan Reynolds dedicates award to memory of children who died of cancer
Published Tuesday, December 13, 2016 6:42AM MST
When Ryan Reynolds took the stage to accept his award for Entertainer of the Year at the Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. on Sunday evening, he didn’t make one of his usual hilarious quips or run through a cursory list of producers and agents to thank. Instead, he dedicated the award to two organizations and two children who have made a profound impact on him.
“I would like to dedicate this honour to the Make-a-Wish foundation and the Sick Kids Foundation of Toronto, two incredible organizations that do so much for so many kids in need,” Reynolds announced.
The Vancouver-born actor explained that his role as a crude-talking superhero in the Marvel action comedy “Deadpool” introduced him to a group of new fans.
“‘Deadpool’ was an 11-year odyssey for me to get up here, and it resonated with a lot of people,” he said. “The character had cancer and some of the people that this character resonated with were sick kids.”
Along with the two charities, the 40-year-old movie star took a moment to pay tribute to two young Canadian fans in particular, Connor McGrath and Grace Bowen.
“They didn't lose the battle, they started a fight and it's up to us to finish it,” Reynolds said in his speech.
Reynolds befriended Bowen in 2014 during Olympic medallist Hayley Wickenheiser’s induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame. The young Grafton, Ont. girl was an avid hockey player and dancer before she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. Wickenheiser had invited Bowen to the ceremony as a special guest after meeting her at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital.
The young girl’s dad, Greg Bowen, told CTV Toronto on Monday about his daughter’s introduction to Reynold’s backstage that day.
“He (Reynolds) fell in love with her and he’s told many people in his interviews that he realized after that it was the reason he went there (Toronto’s SickKids),” Greg Bowen said in a phone interview.
Bowen died less than two years ago when she was nine years old. She was featured in a SickKids' VS fundraising campaign, which presents children as combatants against their diseases. Reynolds has said in multiple interviews that Bowen inspired him to become involved in the hospital.
In January, the actor met 13-year-old Connor McGrath through the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a special advance screening of “Deadpool” in Edmonton. McGrath died in April, sparking an emotional response from Reynolds on Facebook.
"For three years, my friend, Connor McGrath, drop-kicked cancer," Reynolds wrote. "Not sure how… Maybe the cancer cheated… But the fight came to an end two nights ago.
"In a certain sense he WAS Deadpool. Or, at least everything Deadpool aspires to be; balancing pain, fearlessness, love and a filthy (filthy!) sense of humor in one body. I wish he could've stuck around a lot longer."
Six months later, Reynolds turned to Facebook again to honour Connor McGrath on what would have been his 14th birthday, with a call for donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "(Make-A-Wish) brought us together," he wrote. "Not even a cowardly, f---faced thing like cancer can take that away."
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Andria Case