York security staffers walk for women’s cancers

York Security Services officers April Nietzschmann, Kelly Young and Dana Lacarte-Maule share a bond, each has either lost or had a close family member diagnosed with cancer.

The cancers that made their loved ones ill were women’s reproductive cancers. Most of these kinds of cancers, which include breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers, are silent killers and by the time many are discovered, it is often too late.

When Young’s grandmother died last year, she talked to Nietzschmann and Lacarte-Maule about her frustration and sense of powerlessness as she watched her grandmother slip away. Nietzschmann and Lacarte-Maule knew what she was going through.

Right: April Nietzschmann (left) and Kelly Young are walking in the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers Sept. 11 and 12

Vowing to take action, they decided to form York’s Angels, a team that will walk in the Toronto Weekend to End Women’s Cancers walk Sept. 11 and 12. Participants in the weekend must each raise $2,000. Their first day’s journey ends once they have completed the first half of their two-day, 60-kilometre trek and reached camp at Downsview Park, where they sleep in tents. All monies raised by the walkers go to benefit the Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital.

"My grandmother died several years ago from cancer and the amount of suffering she endured with such strength, courage and grace served as a role model for me," said Nietzschmann, who is the team’s spokesperson. "Kelly’s grandmother died last year and so she approached us about participating in the walk. I think the most frustrating thing for each of us was that we could not do anything to save those we lost. The fact that the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers is a female-led charity and we are women working in a male-dominated profession has also united us to do our best to participate in the walk."

To walk as a team, the three must raise a total of $6,000 ($2,000 per team member). "We are on our way but need help," said Nietzschmann. "Kelly has raised her $2,000 and now we are focusing on Dana and then me. To help raise awareness, we are planning a silent auction and a York yard sale; both events will take place in August. As well, we are asking the community to consider supporting our cause."

The trio also feels their involvement in the charity is important as it takes them out of their security role and into the community. "University community members really only see us in our official roles," Nietzschmann said. "This event is fun, meaningful and shows us in a new role. It is important as everyone has lost someone important or knows of someone struggling with one of these cancers. It affects everyone."

"Participating in this event is life changing and we are thrilled to be a part of it," said Nietzschmann.

Last year, more than 4,000 participants raised $11.6 million in the 2009 Weekend to End Breast Cancer. In 2010, as a reflection of its new mandate, the event’s name was changed to the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers benefiting the Princess Margaret Hospital.

For more information on York’s Angels, contact April Nietzschmann at apriln@yorku.ca, Kelly Young at kellyy@yorku.ca or Dana Lacarte-Maule at dlacarte@yorku.ca.

It is possible to donate to the York team online by visiting the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers Web site and clicking on Toronto, or you can visit the York’s Angels Web page. All donations of $10 or more qualify for a tax receipt.