Silstar Foundation raises $150,000 for lung cancer research


Thousands of people participate in cancer fundraisers each year because a loved one has been affected by cancer. 

For Riccardo and Dolce Bozzo, it was their mother Silvana.

Despite living a healthy and active lifestyle, and being a non-smoker, Silvana was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2008. She was treated at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre but passed away in 2009 at 58 years old.

Two years later, the Bozzo family founded the Silstar Foundation in Silvana’s honour and organized a fundraising dinner.

“We wanted to keep her memory alive by doing what she believed in: bringing family and friends together, putting a smile on people’s faces and welcoming anyone in need to the table for food,” says Riccardo.

The initial event raised $30,000, but the family has grown the “humble little event” each year. Last month, the 7th annual event, now called the Silstar Foundation Walk in the Woods, raised $150,000 for lung cancer research at The Princess Margaret.

The full day event was held on the Bozzo family farm in Kleinburg, including a 5 km walk through the countryside, children’s carnival, food fair, live music and silent auction, with more than 500 participants and 60 volunteers in attendance.

In total, the Silstar Foundation has donated nearly $500,000 to The Princess Margaret over the last seven years. The family hopes to inspire others to start their own fundraising initiatives, even on a small scale.

“None of us come from a fundraising background. We do it because we lost Silvana,” says Nataly Alves, cousin to Riccardo and Dolce and co-organizer of the event. “She made an impact on all of our lives and her memory pushes us forward to try to make an impact on other people’s lives.”

The event aims to spread awareness about lung cancer in non-smokers and raise money to help improve early detection and targeted treatment and care. 

“It’s been so great to watch this event grow from the love and dedication of a family and some friends to love and dedication from family, friends and a great community,” says Dr. Natasha Leighl, medical oncologist and the Thoracic Site Lead for the Division of Medical Oncology at The Princess Margaret. “The Bozzo family is building hope and making a real difference for people’s futures and everyday lives.”

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in Canada. On average, 78 Canadians are diagnosed with lung cancer every day and 58 die from it. 

“I’m looking forward to the day when patients can be cured from the disease, or treated to live longer and have a good quality of life. We’re already seeing positive progress like this with immunotherapy treatments,” says Riccardo. “This disease devastates patients and families and we can’t let it continue to hurt people the way it has.”

Walk in the Woods was supported financially through numerous corporate and individual sponsors. This year’s major sponsors were Joe Vitale (ItalPasta), Aldo Di Felice (TLN Media Group), Rita Rosati (Rosati Family) and Saverio Veltri (TD Wealth Management).

The Silstar Foundation present a cheque to Michael Burns, CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, for a record breaking year to support lung cancer research at The Princess Margaret.

The Bozzo family called on family and friends to support the 7th annual Silstar Foundation event. Over 60 volunteers and dozens of sponsors helped make the event a success. Together, they raised $150,000 to support the work of Dr. Natasha Leighl at The Princess Margaret.