On February 23, at Place Bell in Laval, Les Canadiennes played their ninth edition of their annual Pink in the Rink breast cancer fundraiser.
The event started when then players - and current coaches - Caroline Ouellette and Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux approached the leaders of the team to start an annual fundraiser for breast cancer and give back to the community.
“It’s really an event that we hold near and dear to our hearts,” said Montreal captain Marie-Philip Poulin. “We want to make all the women we’re playing for to know that they’re our inspiration.”
In the past eight events, general manager Meg Hewings, and director of community engagement Fiona Robinson and the rest of the Canadiennes were able to raise over $100,000, with the money going to the Wellness Program of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
The Wellness Program offers care to over 20,000 women per year, and focuses on the post-medical care.
This group of staff work with the diagnosed women through a variety of services, such as psycho-oncology, exercise programs, lymphedema therapy (which focuses on removing the swelling in the arms and legs), as well as educational programs.
“In the first year, there wasn’t enough awareness, and we weren’t able to raise that much,” Robinson said. “It took time, but not before long, it became the event of the season for the girls.”
Robinson had a team of volunteers to help with a silent auction, which featured all the pink jerseys worn by the team during the pre-game warmup and the first period, as well as a lot of memorabilia; from all-star jerseys to national team jerseys, autographed pictures, and more. They also had event tickets, and gift certificates to raise money.
“In its ninth edition, it officially became the marquee event of the season,” said Robinson. “Before the salaries came into play (last season), it became the top priority for everyone involved, especially the team.”
“It’s always been an important game for me personally, I told the girls (in the room) before the game its importance, which is why Meg, Lisa-Marie and I all decided to do an annual ‘Pink in the Rink’ game,” said Ouellette. “Knowing it’s our ninth edition, it really touches me, and I’m super touched to see such a great turnout in the stands, all for the same cause.”
This year, after the game, they were at $16,000, with more still to be raised. People are still able to bid on some game worn jerseys and other memorabilia on eBay until Sunday, with all the proceeds going into the pot as well.
Forward Mélodie Daoust is in her first season with Les Canadiennes, and had decided to raise money with her own initiative; selling her signature ‘MD15’ hats. By the time the game had ended on Saturday, she was very pleased with her personal efforts.
“The breast cancer foundation is amazing at what they do, it touches all of us, near and far away, so it was very important for us to play in the game and also raise money,” said Daoust. “Every time we can give back to others, and especially the women in battle for their lives each and every single day... We have the easy battle, whereas theirs is really tough.”
You can visit the eBay site and bid to try and win an item by clicking here.
You can also donate online directly here.