Sea of Pink Runs Through the Capital
All photos by Ali Matthews.
On Sunday, October 2nd a sea of pink descended upon our Nation’s Capital. Underneath all the layers of pink feathers, glitter, tulle there were over 5,000 Ottawa-Gatineau Changemakers participating in the 23rd Ottawa-Gatineau Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) CIBC Run for the Cure – raising $715,000 this year.
This 5k or 1k walk or run is a trailblazing partnership between the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF), CIBC and 63 communities across Canada and is the country’s largest single-day, volunteer-led, national event in support of breast cancer research, health education and advocacy programs.
The Run hit $20 million total fundraised last year and the CBCF invests the dollars from the Run in the most promising breast cancer research that is leading the way in prevention, diagnosis and treatment and care.
Overall, mortality rates have decreased by 43% since the peak in 1986. However, as breast cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women, funding also contributes to Canada’s leading breast cancer patient support network, which works to improve the quality of life and the emotional support needed for those affected by this disease.
While the Run is primarily a fundraiser, it is also a form of therapy, providing an opportunity for families, friends, and supporters to join together in honouring their loved ones– some who are now joyfully cancer free, others currently fighting the disease, and those who have tragically lost their lives.
We caught up with two Ottawa-Gatineau Team Captains to learn more about why they run and how they fundraise.
Paul Landsbergen, team captain of The Lumber Jacks, is the Volunteer Stewardship Coordinator for Ottawa-Gatineau, a role that sees him helping participants in their fundraising efforts. He is also Captain of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) Corporate Team, The Lumbering Jacks – one of the top Ottawa corporate fundraisers.
Ottawa Life: What is the inspiration behind your team name, The Lumbering Jacks?
Paul Landsbergen: We started with a rather boring name of “Team FPAC”. To get the staff more engaged we had a contest to name the team, with the winner getting a prize. Our President at the time came up with the best name, being The Lumbering Jacks. And while he didn’t win because he was the boss, it really was the best name!
Forest products and breast cancer research doesn’t seem like a natural partnership and yet the FPAC team has fundraised a total of $113,000 for the CIBC Run for the Cure over the last 10 years. What prompted your participation in 2006?
Most teams are motivated by an individual story and our situation is just that. When we started, my mom was a breast cancer survivor from 2004. However, my mom’s cancer returned in 2008 and she passed away very quickly. I remember that vividly. When she was re-diagnosed I increased my fundraising goal from $1,000 to $5,000. It was so quick, I never got a chance to tell her that. That year the fundraising just snowballed and I ended up surpassing $10,000. We have maintained that level of annual fundraising for a number of years – being the top Corporate Team in Ottawa from 2011-2013. Our total team annual fundraising peaked in 2011 at nearly $17,000 and a couple of those years I was also the top individual fundraiser in Ottawa. In recent years it has been tougher as there is a lot of fundraising competition among so many worthy causes. But with this year’s fundraising we are now over the $120,000 mark.
Many teams participating in the Run are led by individuals. What has been your experience leading a corporate team? Were there any specific benefits or challenges your experienced?
The fact that we have done so well over the years illustrates how I have been blessed with the support from the organization, colleagues and a network of sponsors. Make no mistake, leading a team and doing individual fundraising is a lot of work. Our team fundraising is principally driven by two events, a golf day with raffle and a silent auction. We ask our partner organizations to donate items for those events. In addition to my fundraising, team members vary in their own fundraising. It has been a great experience and so rewarding to see us make such a strong contribution to creating a future without breast cancer.
Marie Claire Ivanski’s Team, “Friends for Life”, which she is captain of, is the top Ottawa CIBC Run for the Cure fundraiser this year and Marie Claire has been personally involved in raising over $700,000 for CBCF.
Ottawa Life: What is the inspiration behind your team name, Friends for Life?
Marie Claire Ivanski: I will try to explain what I feel and hopefully I can put it to words. Friends for Life means we are friends fighting for and trying to save the “lives” of other friends. When you are friends with me it’s for “life.” Despite the name, my family is also an inspiration behind the team. I have 5 grand daughters, a beautiful daughter and daughter-in-law, and 2 sons and 1 son-in-law – as they are not exempt from the disease. I always think that by creating a future without breast cancer, we are potentially changing their’s.
You have been involved in the Run for the Cure for 11 years and fundraising for the end of breast cancer every way possible since then. Tell me about how you got started.
I started fundraising for the Run for the Cure with the Dupuis Ford Team on the organizing committee. We helped raise over $300,000 in 2005. However, 6 years ago the team folded and that’s when I decided that I needed to continue the fight. I formed my own team “Friends of Life” with 4 other friends. With this year’s contribution of $30,000 I will have reach the $700,000 mark of donations that I contributed to the CBCF.
What was the inspiration behind your participation in 2005?
My inspiration was when my friend Jacynth was diagnosed in 2005 and died in 2006 after the young age of 57. Her passing woke something in me that I needed to do something to help find the cure and help spread awareness about pro-active screening – early detection does save lives. I’m a strong advocate about this topic. At every event I attend or participate in, I share this view.
What makes the Ottawa Run for the Cure unique compared to other events you have organized or participated in?
The run fuels me in a way that is difficult to explain. Seeing the sea of pink running and walking for a loved one’s victory or in someone’s passing in indescribable. Experience the sharing and caring resets my determination to full speed ahead. The Ottawa run has a way of bringing like-minded people together. The sharing of stories, sad and happy updates on developments and any outcomes is a important source of information. The feeling that you are never alone in this battle is comforting to most.
What advice would you give first time participants?
Never let yourself be intimated and disappointed by the amount that you have raised. Be thankful and show your appreciation to even a dollar as a donation because it’s one dollar that can make all the difference. Be proud and remember even the smallest amount collected will add up fast.