Dental student raising funds for brain tumour research in memory of her dad

Tarwinder Rai - 14 January 2015

As a child, like most little girls, Stephanie Armstrong dreamed about the day her father would walk her down the aisle at her wedding. This summer she'll be getting married but it'll be without her late father by her side.

Losing him to brain cancer in 2001, Armstrong is celebrating her father's life, and most importantly his spirit, by making and selling headpieces and donating all the proceeds to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada on August 8 - the day he would have otherwise walked her down the aisle.

Her father, Gordon Preun, commonly known as Gordie, battled brain cancer during Armstrong's entire childhood. For 11 years he lived with brain cancer and to Armstrong, "he was still just a normal dad to me and my brother."

"My father didn't seem sick at all until the last month of his life," says Armstrong, a second-year University of Alberta dental student. He played outside with us and was always happy. He loved us. You wouldn't even have known he was fighting this battle."

Armstrong got the idea to make and sell floral and chain headpieces after seeing a friend wear one, and, shortly after, The Gordie Project was created in his honour. Since launching less than two weeks ago, the project has raised over $2,000.

"The project has gotten a bigger response than I anticipated," says Armstrong. "We have been overwhelmed and touched by all of the people willing to donate, purchase a headpiece, or contribute in any way possible. When we present the cheque to the Foundation on our wedding day, we are presenting it on behalf of everyone who has had a part in this project. It will be a very special moment for us and we will feel a humbling sense of community as we do it."

With support from her friends and family, especially her fiancé Ryan Brown, who gave her the extra push to start the project, Armstrong says her goal now is to keep the momentum and support going until it's time for the big day.

"My dental class has been volunteering their time to help make the pieces and fill orders," she says. "Without my family and friends encouragement, I wouldn't have been able to take this on."

For Armstrong, had her father have been able to witness her fundraising efforts today, she says he'd have one word for her - "crazy."

"Since I was a child, I've always been known to be a busy kid. Between dental school, planning for a wedding, work and yoga, he'd say I was crazy to take on another project. But he'd be proud of me and grateful because it shows the love me and my brother have for him," she said.

To make a donation or buy a headpiece, please visit