The Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers announced 4590 participants raised $10 million for The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as the 10th annual Weekend commenced Saturday morning at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. Weekend participants will walk over 60 km through Toronto neighbourhoods with an overnight camp at Downsview Park and a closing ceremony at Ricoh Coliseum on Sunday.
“We are grateful and humbled by this community of walkers, sponsors, volunteers, donors and all their supporters who have come together for a common goal to end woman’s cancers; and in doing so have made the 10th annual Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend To End Women’s Cancers an amazing success,” said Paul Alofs, President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
“This year in Canada, over 31,000 women will be diagnosed with either breast or gynecological cancer, and over 8,000 will die from the disease. As one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world, we at The Princess Margaret are on a mission to end cancer in our lifetime. The $10 million raised this year will help fund Personalized Cancer Medicine for all women’s cancers, including breast, cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancers. Personalized Cancer Medicine will allow us to detect cancer earlier, diagnose cancer more precisely, target cancer without damaging healthy tissue and support patients and families throughout their journey,” added Alofs.
In 10 years, The Weekend has raised over $133 million for The Princess Margaret, and today it is the largest multi-day walk for women’s cancers in North America. The annual Weekend brings together communities of survivors and their supporters who spend months fundraising and training for the two-day walk.
"I walked in the first Weekend back in 2003 and have walked ever since," said Mary Gyemi from Toronto.
"This year is particularly important to me, because last November I was diagnosed with breast cancer. For the past ten years I’ve raised funds and walked to help those I love get the treatment and care they need. I now know first-hand how vital these funds are, because the dollars raised this year, and years past, are helping save lives," added Gyemi.
Funds raised by The Weekend enable The Princess Margaret to support world-leading scientists like Dr. Tak Mak and his team of more than 125 researchers and scientists at The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute. Weekend funds also helped The Princess Margaret pilot The Gattuso Rapid Diagnostic Centre, a groundbreaking centre where patients can receive their assessment, breast cancer diagnosis and treatment plan in one day.
“We are now seeing over 750 patients a year and providing breast cancer diagnoses in one day, instead of weeks or months,” said Dr. David McCready, Breast Cancer Cite Leader at The Princess Margaret whose vision led to the development of the centre.
“Women who are referred to the centre by their family physician can have a physical, a mammogram, an ultrasound, even a tissue biopsy; and then get the results from a surgeon, all within one day,” Dr. McCready added.
To commemorate the 10th annual Weekend in Toronto, this year’s event features an unprecedented line-up of activities.
Juno Award-winning Canadian artist, Divine Brown performed Friday evening at The Weekend’s first-ever pre-party. Five-time Juno Award winners and Grammy nominees Glass Tiger and Canada’s premiere live disco tribute show-band DiscoNation will perform at the Saturday evening camp, where participants will enjoy premium cuisine prepared and sponsored by Rose Reisman Catering and The Pickle Barrel.
“For ten years, our Weekend walkers have worked tirelessly to raise money, secure donations, plan fundraising events, recruit participants all in support of our mission to end women’s cancers in this lifetime. We’ve put significant thought, care and detail into this year’s activities with the sole intent of creating an unforgettable Weekend experience for each one of our walkers,” Alofs said.
On Sunday, acclaimed tenor and musical theatre legend, Michael Burgess, will perform at the event’s closing ceremony. The ceremony is open to the public and involves a procession of participants, crewmembers and volunteers who unite with survivors and supporters for a celebration and emotional reflection on their collective achievements.
Registration for the 2013 Weekend opened on Saturday with an extraordinary announcement by Alofs, citing the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, will be the host venue for the 11th annual Weekend on September 7th and 8th of next year. Participants cheered with enthusiasm as Alofs explained The Weekend’s opening ceremonies, overnight camp and closing ceremonies will take place on the playing field, underneath the Rogers Centre’s iconic retractable dome.
“This fantastic opportunity is thanks to the most generous support of the Rogers Centre, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rogers family and Paul Beeston, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club and Rogers Centre,” said Alofs.
“The incredible location also allows us to prepare an exciting new waterfront route for The Weekend in 2013. We encourage everyone to join us next year as we begin a new decade of The Weekend. Registration is now open, so be sure to visit www.endcancer.ca or call 416-815-9255 and register today,” Alofs added as thousands of participants cheered and the walk commenced.
Weekend organizers expect hundreds of people to attend public cheering stations along the route. For full event details, visit www.endcancer.ca or call 416-815-9255.