Tyler Moss and Tannis Nicholson stand together on the USask campus.
USask alumni Tannis Nicholson and Tyler Moss are giving back to the community through a memorial golf tournament that raised more than $50,000 in 2023. Photo: Shannon Boklaschuk.

Making a difference for patients and families

USask alumni Tannis Nicholson (BusAdm’06) and Tyler Moss (BusAdm’08, CEBAC’11) are organizing a second memorial golf tournament to support the Comfort Care Fund at the Hospice at Glengarda

University of Saskatchewan (USask) alumni Tannis Nicholson (BusAdm’06) and Tyler Moss (BusAdm’08, CEBAC’11) are working together to make a difference in their community and to spark conversations about end-of-life care.

The siblings are currently organizing the Second Annual Graham Nicholson Memorial Golf Tournament, which will be held in Saskatoon at Moon Lake Golf and Country Club on June 14, 2024. The event will honour the legacy of Tannis’s husband, Graham Nicholson, and raise money for the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation (SPHF) to support the Comfort Care Fund at the Hospice at Glengarda.

“I’ve always given back, and community’s been a big part of my life,” said Tannis. “When Graham got sick, it was just a matter of trying to find a way of thanking the individuals around us that were supporting us.”

The Nicholsons are pictured in a family photo. Graham Nicholson passed away on April 15, 2022, after being diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-growing brain cancer. Submitted photo.
The Nicholsons are pictured in a family photo. Graham Nicholson passed away on April 15, 2022, after being diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-growing brain cancer. Submitted photo.

Graham Nicholson, a husband, father, avid golfer and longtime retail manager in Saskatoon, passed away at the Hospice at Glengarda on April 15, 2022 — just 68 days after he was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-growing brain cancer. Graham’s short stay at Saskatchewan’s first free-standing residential hospice made a big impact on the Nicholson family, including Graham and Tannis’s two children, Austin and Chelsea. The hospice, which is owned by St. Paul’s Hospital, is situated in a residential neighbourhood in Saskatoon, at Hilliard Street East and Melrose Avenue.

Tannis said her husband received outstanding care in the comfortable, home-like facility, and she and her family members were treated with kindness and compassion. As a result of that experience, Tannis and her brother, Tyler, were inspired to bring awareness to end-of-life care options in Saskatchewan and to find a way to support other families in similar situations. With these goals in mind, they chose to raise money for the Comfort Care Fund at the Hospice at Glengarda, which enables hospice staff to customize care in small ways that make a big difference.

“You don’t know, when you’re in a crisis situation, that you’re going to need a community resource like that,” said Tyler.

Graham, who passed away at the age of 49, is remembered for his humour, for always making time for his family and friends, and for his passion for golf. In 2023, with the support of a committed group of volunteers, Tannis and Tyler partnered with the SPHF to organize the inaugural memorial golf tournament in Graham’s honour. Held on June 15, 2023, at Moon Lake Golf and Country Club, the inaugural Graham Nicholson Memorial Golf Tournament raised $50,644.50 for the Comfort Care Fund at the Hospice at Glengarda. The success of the event surpassed expectations.

“The community just poured their support into the event,” Tyler said.

While Tyler and Tannis had never organized a large fundraising event before, Tyler was immediately on board when Tannis floated the idea. Although neither sibling is a golfer, they knew their dedication to the cause, their USask educations, their work experiences, and their community connections would help them succeed. The siblings are also “in sync” and work well together, said Tyler.

“When you’ve got a professional background and an education that goes with it, (we thought), ‘This isn’t totally insurmountable. We can do this.’ The foundation was behind us, and they were in full support of our proposal,” he added.

Tyler and Tannis believe the skills they developed while studying in the Edwards School of Business at USask served them well in organizing the large-scale fundraising event. Tannis, who owns a small business and works for a financial institution, earned her certificate in business administration in 2006. Tyler, who works as an administrative assistant at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, earned the same certificate in 2008, followed by an executive business administration certificate in 2011.

Tyler and Tannis were both introduced to business practices throughout their certificate programs. During his second certificate program, Moss worked on a product launch project — which happened to be for Tannis’s small Saskatoon-based business, Snuggle Bug Diaper Cakes. Their educational experiences also enhanced their skills in areas such as project management, finance, communications, and marketing — all of relevance when organizing fundraisers and community events.

“It reaches beyond the four walls of work,” Tyler said of their USask education.

Both graduates now hope they can inspire other USask alumni to become involved in fundraising projects that will benefit people and communities.

Registration is open for the Second Annual Graham Nicholson Memorial Golf Tournament, which will take place on June 14, 2024, at Moon Lake Golf and Country Club. The event will include a round of golf, dinner, a silent auction and a live auction. Alternatively, a dinner-only option is also available for those who may not golf. Through the golf tournament, Tyler and Tannis hope to raise additional money for the Comfort Care Fund as well as to continue to shine a light on end-of-life care options. Although Graham was only at the Hospice at Glengarda for 36 hours before he passed away, the peaceful, supportive environment was the right fit for Graham and his family, and it made a lasting impression.

Since the first golf tournament was held in 2023, Tannis has received phone calls from community members asking how their loved ones can access hospice care. Tannis said that while end-of-life discussions aren’t always easy, it’s important to have those conversations with family members proactively before you need them. You may need to “advocate loudly” for those individuals needing hospice care to ensure their end-of-life wishes are taken into consideration, she said. She also encourages individuals to think about getting their future affairs in order, make a will, understand their finances, and make memories.

“It’s a weight on your shoulders because you don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “But once you talk about it, it’s like, ‘Why was I so worried about this?’ ”

Tannis and Tyler believe that raising awareness about hospice care in Saskatchewan can help families navigate these necessary end-of-life discussions. They want everyone to know that hospice care is available in their community as an option for all.

“For me, it’s awareness — awareness that this facility exists, awareness that it’s available to everybody,” Tannis said.