Games for a good cause

York University will have a spirited and energetic presence at this year’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk, Sept. 10-12. The national fundraiser, entering its second year, raised $8.5 million for breast cancer research last year and was deemed by organizers a huge success. This year, teams from across Ontario will meet on the Toronto waterfront at the Princes’ Gates of Exhibition Place, then walk all the way to Downsview Park where they will camp overnight. The next day, walkers will return to the Ricoh Stadium at Exhibition Place for the closing ceremonies. The journey is a 60-km trek and to participate, each walker must raise a minimum of $2,000.

The York University team is composed of 27 women who call themselves the “Victorious Vandoos”. The team, which is led by Vanier College Master Carole Carpenter, includes faculty, family members and friends of York University.


Above: From left, York University Alumna Barbara Karasiuk with Carole Carpenter,  during the 2003 Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk. Karasiuk’s sister underwent treatment for breast cancer last year.

“Our name was chosen because of the famous regiment in the Canadian Army named ‘The Vandoos’. Our first French-Canadian governor general, Georges Vanier, was a founding officer of the Royal 22nd Regiment (‘The Vandoos’) during his distinguished military career,” explained Carpenter. “Vanier College at York University is named after Georges Vanier and because of this, our team will be sporting the bright pink, green and blue colors of Vanier College on their shirts for the walk. Our slogan is ‘The Vandoos – marching against breast cancer’.”

Some of the members of the team are new to the event. Carpenter, who is attending her second walk, has been a key force in organizing the team and developing creative ways to raise funds. Her efforts and those of her teammates have paid off: the Victorious Vandoos have raised $83,273.63, already exceeding their goal.



Above: Members of the Victorious Vandoos during last year’s Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk

Each member of the team will continue to fundraise right up to this weekend’s event, says Carpenter. Today, the entire York community is invited to join the Victorious Vandoos in a University-wide fundraising day in support of breast cancer research as a part of York’s 2004 Orientation activities.

Dubbed the “Bee Cee Olympics for Best Campus, Best College, Breast Cancer”, the full-day event will include an opening ceremony at the Catalpa Court between the Stedman Lecture Halls and the Student Centre, followed by various games and other activities from 11:30am to 2:30pm. The entire York community is invited to join in the games, which will take place in or adjacent to participating colleges, including Atkinson, Bethune, Calumet and Vanier. The Vanier College events will take place on the Vanier Field and Calumet’s in Calumet Court. There is an intercollegial competition for the most funds raised among the residences and also among the colleges.

Other events include a fundraising piano recital from noon to 1pm in the Vanier Senior Common Room, VC 010. There will also be donation boxes throughout the campus – in colleges, departmental and service offices, and popular locations such as the Bear Pit and York Lanes. And there will be special York University Breast Cancer Ribbons (incorporating the white rose of York) as well as other fundraising goodies.

“The goal is to raise $1 for/from each person on the campus on this day. The motto is ‘Spare a Loonie. Help Save Lives’,” said Carpenter. “If everyone would donate even just one dollar, York would raise $60,000 for breast cancer research.”

Key to the University’s event is having fun while at the same time developing university spirit and demonstrating York’s commitment to the larger community.

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk, from Sept. 10 to 12, will involve over 4,000 women and men walking 60 kilometers through the city of Toronto.

“Like all of the walkers, I have had a personal experience with this dreadful disease,” said Carpenter. “Many of the participants are walking in memory of a loved one who has died of breast cancer. The members of our team are participating in this event because they want to help make a contribution to the fight against this disease.”

Sept. 10, “Day Zero,” features a check-in and other housekeeping matters like tent assignments and credentials. Sept. 11, Day One, includes the opening ceremonies, a 30-km walk and the overnight camping adventure. Day Two on Sept. 12, features another 30-km walk and the closing ceremonies.

Last year’s total was divided among three innovative programs: survivorship care, leading-edge cancer research at the newly formed Institute of Breast Cancer Research, and furthering the Princess Margaret Hospital’s world-class breast cancer clinic.

First launched in Toronto, the Weekend to End Breast Cancer has expanded to become a national effort with a Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk that took place in Vancouver in August and another planned for 2005. As well, walks are scheduled for Calgary and Montreal in 2005. 

“It is a very emotional event,” said Carpenter. “The opening ceremonies are overwhelming.”

It is possible to donate to the York fundraising online by visiting the Weekend to End Breast Cancer Web site, click on Toronto, then Sponsor a participant, giving Carole Carpenter’s name and providing the requested information. All donations of $10 or more qualify for a tax receipt.