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Seguin man passionate about Camp Oochigeas
Thursday, October 05, 2017

SEGUIN TWP. – Bill McMeekan is passionate about Camp Oochigeas.

Four years ago he was diagnosed with cancer and decided to make the most of the two to six years doctors gave him to live.

So, two years ago he started volunteering with Camp Ooch, a camp for children with or affected by cancer that is east of Rosseau on Highway 141. He’s now taking that a step further, fundraising to help Ooch achieve its dream of sending every child in Ontario with cancer to camp for free, all the while drawing attention to it and what it does.

So far he said he has $10,000 pledged and Parry Sound council voted last month to add his $4,000 donation request to its 2018 budget talks. Seguin council asked him to fill out the proper donation application during his presentation on Oct.2.

This effort comes from the former Seguin volunteer firefighter who, before his diagnosis, didn’t even know Ooch was just down the highway from his home community. 

“When you’re healthy, you don't pay attention,” he said, standing outside the camp Wednesday morning, the clouds threatening to rain at any moment. “I just felt like I had to do something.”

“The first year (as a camp counsellor) I was on a one-week session, including a three-day canoe trip to the Massasauga wilderness park with the senior boys, meaning 13, 14, 15 (year olds),” McMeekan said in his presentation to Seguin council. “This trip included a dedicated, volunteering nurse from SickKids so a camper under treatment could go along with us. My second year … I had a chance to be an instructor/counsellor working in the wood shop…it was very, very rewarding experience.

The campers, he said later, give him energy and leave their impression on his soul.

“You can’t say ‘see you next season’ because every year there’s a page of kids who don’t make it,” he said.

In his presentation to Seguin he also touched on the in-hospital programs the camp runs at SickKids and the programs offered at the Toronto site, Ooch Downtown for kids whose health means coming up north isn’t possible.

He’s thankful for the donations and pledges already given, pointing out that the community is called upon time and time again for “great causes" such as the RACH tourney and the West Parry Sound Health Centre.

Anyone wishing to donate can email him at for a link to his fundraising page for the camp.

Camp Oochigeas looking for help sending kids to Camp
Friday, September 22, 2017

by Eric Wickham

Camp Oochigeas wants Parry Sound's help to send a child to Camp.

Camp Ooch is a summer camp for children with cancer. It's located east of Rosseau.

Bill McMeekan spoke to council on behalf of the camp Tuesday night in hoped of receiving funding to pay for a child to attend the camp.

Sending a child to Camp Ooch for two weeks totals around $4000.

McMeekan, who has terminal cancer, says he will also be asking Seguin Township for a similar donation at a council meeting on October 2nd. He added that if his energy keeps up he will be making similar visits to other municipalities in the Parry Sound area.

Council passed a motion to include discussions of sponsoring a child to attend Camp Ooch in their 2018 budget discussions.

Gravenhurst cyclist raises nearly $7k to send kids with cancer to camp
Thursday, September 07, 2017

by Alison Brownlee

Gravenhurst fundraising tour for kids

GRAVENHURST — Gravenhurst residents Sue Carley and Michelle Patterson were taken by surprise.

The Sue and Michelle Fundraising for Tour for Kids business partners spent the summer setting up shop at, among other venues, the Muskoka Wharf during the Muskoka Thunder Motorcycle Riders' weekly Gravenhurst Charity Bike Night to sell jewelry and accessories made from recycled bicycle parts with funds raised donated to Tour for Kids.

The three-day cycling tour in southern Ontario, in which Carley participated in August, raised funds to send children with cancer to Camp Quality, Camp Trillium, and Muskoka’s Camp Oochigeas.

“Studies have shown ‘cancer camp’ is not ‘just fun’ or ‘just camp’ — it is a way of delivering care to children and families with childhood cancer,” said Carley. “Camp should be considered a necessity.”

And as the motorcycle club’s charity bike night season came to a close with a wrap up party on Sept. 6, Debbie Wood, event chair, presented Carley and Patterson with an unexpected $500 donation in front of roughly 50 club members.

Carley and Patterson seemed overwhelmed.

There were a few teary eyes, many smiles, and lots of applause.

Carley said the ride connected her with people who have lost children to cancer as well as adults who overcame childhood cancer.



More campers, more fun with new spaces open at Camp Oochigeas, Rosseau
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Huntsville Forester

MUSKOKA LIFE — With the grand opening of its new Camper Cabins and Gatts’ Lodge dining hall on July 16, 2017, Camp Oochigeas is ready to welcome more young campers affected by or who have cancer.  The new spaces at the overnight oncology camp near the Village of Rosseau will let 50 per cent more campers aged six to 18 enjoy fun and adventure annually along with more volunteers and medical staff. Camp Ooch, where kids with cancer can just be kids, is the only Canadian camp that provides on-site intravenous chemotherapy and blood transfusions. 

An exuberant crowd of Ooch campers, their families, volunteers, supporters and friends paraded behind the Grand Marshall and Ooch champion Emmanuelle Gattuso to Gatts’ Lodge for the opening.  Canadian actor and Camp Ooch friend Yannick Bisson and his wife Shantelle were among the guests. Rather than cut a ribbon, lead Camper Cabin donors Gabrielle Chevalier and Oliver Bock ‘opened the braid’ in recognition of the braided necklaces worn by campers. The huge accessible, window-lined dining hall will also be used for the camp’s winter programs. 

After lunch at Gatts’ Lodge, everyone joined Slaight Music recording artist Tomi Swick for a campfire song singalong that ended the festivities. 

The new Camper Cabins have barrier-free entrances with graded ramps and specialized electrical outlets that let campers with more complex medical equipment stay with their cabin mates.

“Our goal is to reach every child diagnosed with cancer in the province of Ontario,” said Alex Robertson, CEO of Camp Oochigeas. The camp’s final expansion, to be completed by next summer, includes volunteer and medical staff housing, family housing, a Med Shed expansion for medical treatments, and the Slaight Arts & Music Centre. The ‘Say “No” to “Can’t Go”’ capital campaign to expand the privately funded Camp Ooch began in 2014. 


... From the pages of Muskoka Life magazine


Boat rally raises nearly $1M for sick kids and Camp Oochigeas
Monday, July 31, 2017

by Taylor Ablett

Alan Doyle boat rally

Two local fundraisers in one week are helping kids with cancer go to camp. Camp Oochigeas is benefiting from the annual Boat Rally For Kids With Cancer, which ran last weekend, and the Muskoka Rocks Road Race, which is this weekend. Organizers say the numbers are still being tallied, but the boat rally has brought in roughly $900,000 in support of both The Hospital for Sick Children and Camp Ooch.

Alex Robertson, Camp Ooch CEO, says the camp is a volunteer-driven charity and it relies heavily on support from the community. He says events like these are instrumental in allowing the camp to run its programs.

Robertson says it costs $4,000 for one child to go to camp for two weeks, which is geared towards giving kids a normal camp experience. He says there is an on-site oncologist, three oncology nurses, and a specialized infirmary that allows them to provide intravenous chemotherapy.

He says every dollar that comes in helps to provide sophisticated care, which would normally only be available at the hospital. Robertson says it gives kids who are going through treatment a chance to connect with other kids going through the same thing.

Robertson says only 21 per cent of kids with cancer in Ontario have access to an oncology camp, which means there are 2,400 kids who currently can’t go. He says Camp Ooch is going to change that.

He says help is always needed, to get involved go to the Camp Ooch website. You can also sign up for the Muskoka Rocks race for this weekend:

The 5th annual Boat Rally starts today to raise funds for SickKids and Camp Ooch
Friday, July 28, 2017

Trio of cyclists 'climbing' Mount Everest on Kerns Road today until approximately midnight
Saturday, July 22, 2017

by Kathy Yanchus

cyclist kerns

Eight hours into the Everesting challenge on Kerns Road today, the three elite cyclists attempting the grueling ride, were “just trucking along.”

At this point they were 125-kilometres or 9,213’ in their vertical ‘climb’ up Everest.

As the rain fell, and supporters stood under canopies, the cyclists - organizer George Orfanogiannis, Matt Zielinski and Craig McCusker - still had smiles on their faces, buoyed by the presence of family, friends, members of the community, even firefighters and police.

When they began the first of 73 loops of the 4.9-kilometre Kerns Road at 4:30 a.m. this morning, they were joined by several fellow cyclists; by 9 a.m. there were about 50 cyclists providing moral support and they just kept coming.

Everesting is a punishing event where riders climb 29,029’ in one ride, equal to climbing Mount Everest. Each loop of the climb today will equal 114m of elevation.

Oakville’s Orfanogiannis, joined by Burlington’s Zielinski and McCusker, organized the challenge to raise awareness and funds for SickKids and the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Orfanogiannis’ seven-year-old son Joey is in treatment for leukemia. What his son has endured drives his father to also participate in the 580-kilometre CIBC 401 Bike Challenge between Toronto and Montreal in support of pediatric oncology, as well as the 600-kilometre Tour for Kids to raise funds for Camp Oochigeas, a Muskoka getaway for children with cancer.

It is definitely the first Halton Everesting challenge, and quite possibly the first of its kind in Canada.

By mid-day the riders were keeping a “steady pace” so as to not overly exhaust themselves and burn out too early, said Zielinski.

“We’re not pushing ourselves; we’re trying to keep it nice and calm, a relaxing pace going up (Kerns Road),” said Zielinski.

“It’s incredible. It’s an amazing attempt cycling the height of Everest,” said Orfanogiannis’ wife Lynda, adding her husband has been training every day since May to get stronger and faster.

Even after hours of cycling and sore legs her husband says it doesn’t compare to what their son went through, she said.

“The weather is not helping. They’re doing it a bit slower than they would like, but rain or shine he isn’t going to stop.”

Lynda was touched by community members who turned out with similar stories to their own.

“Sometimes we think it’s just us going through some things but when you do something like this for the community, you see that cancer has touched a lot of families. The support has been great.”

Joey’s lemonade stand is raising funds for the same cause and after the event is over – around the 21-hour mark – Joey will be counting the money filling his jar. Sometime in August there will be a special cheque presentation, which will show that “kids can do it too; it’s not just the adults out there fundraising,” said Lynda.

“The whole family should be involved because it touches everybody (in the family).”


Lifetime CTV Camp Oochigeas
Friday, July 21, 2017

Woman who went to camp for kids who lost siblings to cancer now working there as a nurse
Thursday, July 06, 2017

Jessica Desouza has been involved with the camp for more than 10 years

by Talia Ricci, CBC News

jessica desouza

Jessica Desouza is excited to work her dream job this summer.

The 25-year-old nurse from Mississauga will be spending the season in Muskoka at Camp Oochigeas — a camp exclusively for children with cancer. 

"When I had my interview I told them I would love this experience," Desouza said. "I want to be one of the nurses that once helped my brother."

Desouza's brother, Brendon, died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 12. She said she will never forget the look on his face when he came back from Camp Oochigeas.

"The reaction he would get from coming from camp, and his face, how lit up he was, it was really amazing," Desouza said.

The year her brother died the camp launched another program called Camp Teomul, for kids who lost a sibling to cancer.

"Me and my sister were kind of hesitant to go to this camp, but at the same time really curious, because my brother would always come back so excited," Desouza recalls.

brendon desouza

Dedicated years to the camp

Desouza and her sister attended the camp for several years and said being able to relate to other kids her age who went through the same hardships was a huge part in helping her heal.

Last year, she attended the camp as a volunteer and this summer will be the first time she is a paid staff member.

"I want to make him proud and I know he would be happy that I'm still continuing with this camp," she said.

The perfect candidate 

Alex Robertson, CEO of Camp Oochigeas, witnessed the progress Desouza made as a child and is happy to bring her on as a part of the team.

"I can't think of better arms to come welcome kids who are so recently bereaved than someone who knows the power of camp like Jess," Robertson said. "She really gets it."

Robertson said after experiencing the kind of trauma that comes with losing a sibling at such a young age, the camp provides the kids with some kind of "normalcy."

"You can see it in the kids' faces, the smiles that they have when they realized they've formed new friendships," he said.

Desouza is looking forward to having the same kind of impact on the children she gets to work with as the nurses who worked with her big brother had on him.

"I hope he's watching down on me and really happy that I'm here."

Richmond Hill teen advocates for cancer warriors' mental health needs
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

by Teresa Latchford

Stephanie Cortinovis

Stephanie Cortinovis is using her personal story to advocate for others.

At 15 years of age, Cortinovis was a talented athlete, but the Richmond Hill teen found herself unable to breathe after completing a skating routine. It was something that had never happened before and when she was rushed to the hospital she knew something was wrong.

Cortinovis was immediately admitted to Sick Kids and was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I know it seems odd, but my first thought was about losing my hair,” she said. “When it really sunk in, I realized I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I had been doing.”

That day her life changed forever. She was unable to attend school, participate in the sports she loved and wouldn’t be able to see as much of her family as she was accustomed to. Due to sensitivities to a number of medications, she was in and out of Sick Kids and Southlake on a regular basis.

“I was lucky and was told my cancer wouldn’t be fatal, but treatment and the entire experience was still very difficult,” she added. “During and after treatment I had to learn to cope with my anxiety and depression.”

While the resources she had access to and her trip to Camp Ooch, a retreat for children who have received a cancer diagnosis, helped her cope, she feels there is not enough access to mental health support for children, youth and teens who are undergoing treatment.

“I am beginning to get involved and speak up,” she said. “People need to be aware that children like me need more help when it comes to the mental health issues associated with this kind of diagnosis.”


Cortinovis and her family have been participating in the Newmarket Relay for Life event annually because even though her battle is over, she knows there are many who are still fighting.

She has also been fundraising at Cardinal Carter Catholic High School with the hope of starting an annual Relay for Life school event.

The Newmarket Relay for Life event will be held June 23 at Pickering College from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.



Camp bring summer magic to kids who appreciate it most
Friday, June 16, 2017

by Jim Coyle

camp ooch

If the Muskoka summer offers a natural refuge far from daily cares, it might be nowhere more true than at camps for young people facing some of life’s most challenging circumstances.

“It’s an absolute delight” watching what happens at Camp Oochigeas, says Lisa Nightingale, a spokesperson for the institution widely known as Camp Ooch. “The focus is giving kids with cancer a chance to be more than just a patient, a chance to be kids.”

This year the Toronto Star’s Fresh Air Fund hopes to raise $650,000 to help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special-needs kids to camp at one of the 50 residential and 52 day camps it’s sponsoring.

One of those is Camp Ooch, which was founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers as a two-week program and has grown into a multi-faceted operation with family-based programs at its downtown Toronto offices — “the entire family goes through the journey of pediatric cancer,” Nightingale says — along with initiatives at the Hospital for Sick Children and three other pediatric hospitals across Ontario.

Best-known, however, are the overnight and weekend programs at Camp Ooch.

Nightingale told the Star the “unique part of it is we have our ‘med shed’ serviced by pediatric oncologists and nurses, many of whom our kids would already have had a relationship with at their local hospital when they were diagnosed with cancer.”

Ooch is the only camp in Canada, she said, that provides on-site IV, chemotherapy and blood transfusions. “We can actually serve kids while they are in a critical stage of their cancer journey.”

A camper might “receive IV chemo in the morning,” she said. “And they will go from there to water-skiing in the afternoon.”


Such impressive exploits notwithstanding, the most important thing for campers at the two-week camp program is being in an environment where their peers understand implicitly what things are like, Nightingale said.

“No one likes to travel a journey on their own,” she said. “These kids are often isolated from their peers at school. They’re often isolated even from their families when they spend time in hospital. Sometimes, they’re there for weeks that add up to months.”

Camp Ooch serves 1,500 kids with cancer and their families each year, she said, and is currently expanding to accommodate more at the Muskoka program.

“Our goal is to serve every child diagnosed with cancer in Ontario and we know that right now there are 2,400 kids diagnosed with cancer in Ontario who don’t have access to an oncology camp.”

At Camp Ooch, the philosophy is “challenge by choice,” Nightingale said.

“We let them choose their activities. You’re not a kid with cancer, you’re a kid first. So what do you want to do?

“We’ve often had parents say, ‘Well, I can’t believe my daughter could climb that rock wall.’ And they come back on the day they’re picking up and their child is at the top of the rock wall.”

Friends often ask those who work at Camp Ooch about the emotional toll, she said. “But we really focus on the friendship and fun. We are delighted and filled with joy at all the positive experiences that happen and I think that overshadows any of the other challenges we may face.”

Camp Ooch’s staff of almost 60 is supported by over 550 volunteers, she said, some of whom use their own holiday time to work at the camp.

“Those volunteers continue to come back year after year after year. It’s an experience that fills them.”

“That gives us the ability to keep our program costs low and all of our programs are offered for free to the campers and their families.”

Nightingale said “we greatly, greatly appreciate” the Fresh Air Fund’s support.

Not so very far away, a little north of Parry Sound, is Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for children who have experienced the loss of a family member.

Lisa Toye, a counsellor at the Dr. Jay Children’s Grief Centre and co-director of Camp Erin, said that among peers they know have had the same experience, kids are able — maybe for the first time — to acknowledge and talk about their grief.

“The kids that we work with are extraordinary and they are going through really extreme adversity, experiencing the dying or death of somebody in their lives,” she said.

“It’s one of the most human experiences. Every one of us will go through life experiencing the death of somebody that we care about and yet, just like the experience of dying, it’s so marginalized and our society is so uncomfortable with it.”

The Camp Erin model was born in Washington state, where former major league pitcher Jamie Moyer’s charitable foundation established the first Camp Erin, named for a teenage girl with whom the Moyer family became close during her illness.

“In many ways it looks like a typical camp experience,” Toye said. “We do all the super fun camp things — canoeing, high ropes, arts and crafts, archery, woodworking.”

But — as with three other such camps in Montreal, Cornwall and Hamilton — they also have counselling and therapeutic activities at which campers learn “that they’re not the only ones who have had these feelings, and that these feelings are normal.”

There’s lots of laughter through the weekend program, “also tears,” and moments when kids say, “Oh, my God, I’ve never talked to anybody about this!

“For kids, it’s so important. They may not have known anybody else who had a father die. But at camp, there are lots of other kids who have.”

This year, Camp Erin accommodated about 120 children, “but it’s always a struggle for financial resources,” Toye said.

“We don’t want there to be any barriers for kids participating.”

In a perfect world, there would be no need for such camps for children bearing way too big a burden for their years.

In the world we have, supporting them is the least we can do.

How to donate

With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat; it gives these children a break in life and memories to last a lifetime. Our target is $650,000.

By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON, M5E 1E6

By credit card: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847

Online: For instant donations, use our secure form at:

The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.

Darren & Mo: Interview with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked ladies
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ed Robertson Mo

Barenaked Ladies frontman, Ed Robertson stopped by to chat with Mo about the song he wrote for the kids at Camp Oochigeas.

The Sporting Life 10k is this weekend, in support of Camp Oochigeas.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Memorial hockey game benefits Camp Ooch
Wednesday, June 07, 2017

by Iain Colpitts

hockey rink team picture

More than $6,000 was raised for Camp Oochigeas at the Anthony Pileggi Memorial Hockey Game, held June 3 at Iceland Arena.

The event is now in its fifth year and organized in honour of Pileggi, a Port Credit boy who died in 2012, at the age of 10, after battling leukemia.

To honour his memory, funds raised go toward Camp Ooch, a summer camp for children with cancer.

Six-time Stanley Cup winner Dick Duff showed up to drop the puck for the opening face off, taken by Ontario Hockey League players Michael Little from the Mississauga Steelheads and Ryan Merkley from the Guelph Storm.

Pileggi’s parents, Vince and Rosa, said he loved the game of hockey, but was unable to play because of his illness.

Through five years, the event has raised over $25,000.

‘Negative energy into something positive’: Mom takes up Sporting Life 10K in memory of son | Toronto Star
Friday, May 19, 2017

family picture

From left, Madhur Shah, his sister Yatri Shah, Vahin Shah, Madhur’s wife Harshita Shah and Mahin Shah. The family is running in the annual Sporting Life 10K run on Sunday in memory of Yatri’s son Shiven, who died in 2015. (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)

Before Yatri Shah’s son Shiven died of brain cancer in 2015, he spent two happy weeks at Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids affected by cancer.

On Sunday, Shah will be running in the annual Sporting Life 10K along with almost 20 family members and friends to raise money for the camp, and to help other children like her son.

Camp Oochigeas, known affectionately as Camp Ooch, helps hundreds of families each year through camp programs in pediatric hospitals, city day camps and an overnight camp in Muskoka.

“The cause for us – I think there can be nothing better because Camp Ooch gives that smile and these kids they just need to be smiling all the time,” said Shah.

“When (Shiven) went to camp, even though he had his stroller there and everything, he was walking everywhere, he was a fun person. He just wanted to have fun,” she recalled.

The Sporting Life 10K has been supporting the Camp Ooch since 2000. Over the years, it’s sent thousands of kids to camp and has raised more than $15 million.

“Everyone has been touched by cancer,” said Jean-Paul Corbeil, the advertising and marketing director at Sporting Life in a news release.


Before Shiven died in September 2015 of brain cancer, he spent two happy weeks at Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids affected by cancer.

“We are privileged to provide an opportunity for the people of Toronto to come together to give these amazing kids the chance to, as Ooch says, be who they are not what they have; to have fun, make friends, to ‘just be kids!’ “

The run, which is billed as Canada’s easiest 10 kilometre run, and one of the fastest anywhere, begins at the Sporting Life store at 2665 Yonge St. and heads southwest towards the lake.

This year will be Shah’s second time running it.

Last year, her group raised $5,000. At that time, Shah remembers thinking, “Instead of thinking about how sad I am, let’s all of us try to do something. We can channel all this negative energy into something positive and it really motivated us.”

The training was hard, but she said everyone’s positivity motivated her on the day of the run.

“That just keeps us going,” she said, “That the more kids we can send, or just being able to remember (Shiven’s) happy memories while being able to do something positive, for us is worth it.”

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Performance Boat Club chips into poker run in Gravenhurst for Camp Oochigeas
Friday, May 19, 2017


GRAVENHURST — On Saturday, June 17, a group of generous performance boaters will gather in Gravenhurst for their annual charity poker run to raise money for Camp Oochigeas. This is the fourth year the Performance Boat Club of Canada has held their charity poker run on the Muskoka lakes to raise money for local charities. In the past, money has been raised for the Muskoka nursing station, the Muskoka Children’s Foundation and the Gravenhurst Youth Centre.

Did you know it costs almost $4,000 to send a child to camp for a week?

The Performance Boat Club is stepping up to the challenge and is determined to send at least three kids to camp for a week!

“Our members are extremely generous people when it comes to giving to charity, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet or exceed our goal,” says Meghan Brousseau, club president. “Unfortunately, there tends to be a stigma around performance boats, but spectators will see that our group is respectful of all rules on the water and obey all signs and slow zones.” She continues: “We have a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone in the group who does not obey the rules of the water. Safety of participants and spectators is also a top concern, and the club will have a safety boat with fire/paramedic on the run as well as positioning safety boats at the Joe River and the Locks.”

Boats will begin to arrive on Friday afternoon and spectators are welcome to come to the wharf to check out the hardware and talk to the captains. For those interested in attending, they can contact Meghan Brousseau or register at

The agenda on Saturday, June 17 is as follows:

◦ 8:00-9:30 a.m. — Registration at Dock of the Bay, outside deck area (public viewing of boats is welcome)

◦ 10 a.m. — Driver’s meeting


◦ 10:30 a.m. — Depart the docks

◦ 11 a.m. — Arrive/proceed through locks

◦ 12:00-12:30 p.m. — Arrive at Cleveland's House, Lake Joseph for lunch

◦ 2 p.m. — Depart Cleveland’s House

◦ 2:30 p.m. — Checkpoint No. 2 Top of Lake Joseph

◦ 3 p.m. — Checkpoint No. 3 Bob Barnhart’s cottage on Little Lake Joseph

◦ 4:00-4:30 p.m. — Return to the docks in Gravenhurst. Public viewing of boats is welcome

◦ 7 p.m. — Dinner, awards and charity auction upstairs at Dock of the Bay banquet room

About Performance Boat Club Events

Performance Boat Club Events Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation with a mission to promote safe and responsible performance boating through education, awareness and organized boating events. With the help and support of the performance boating community, our goal is to contribute to local communities through charitable fundraising activities.

Since 2007, the club has raised over $550,000 for various charities in southern Ontario.

Visit for more information on the club and events.


24th Annual West Ferris Trojan Parade for Cancer happening today
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

by Aaron Mahoney

west ferris secondary school

The students of West Ferris Intermediate and Secondary School have walked to raise funds to help find a cure for cancer for the past 23 years, and it continues with today’s parade.

Over the years, the monies raised have been given to organizations such as Camp Oochigeas (a camp for children and youth currently battling cancer), Camp Quality (a Northern Ontario summer camp for children battling cancer, and their families) and the local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society. This year’s fundraising efforts will be divided between a Trojan family and the Canadian Cancer Society. The Annual Trojan Parade for Cancer has raised almost $230 000 to assist with cancer research and support services.

Each year, students raise funds to donate through door-to-door canvassing, dress-down days and other special events. Students then Parade to the North Bay waterfront for a presentation ceremony, and other activities. Originally started by the courage of one young Trojan student, whose grandfather had died of cancer, the parade has become an annual tradition for the students and staff of West Ferris.

22,000 lace up for Camp Oochigeas in Sporting Life 10K race
Monday, May 15, 2017

Over 22,000 people ran, walked and jogged down Yonge St. Sunday in the annual 10 kilometre event.

sporting life 10k

Participants raise their hands for a picture before the Sporting Life 10K run.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

by Azzura Lalani

On Mother’s Day, Kathleen Padulo and her 11-year-old daughter, Neve, ran the Sporting Life 10K, which raises money to support Camp Oochigeas, a camp for children affected by cancer.

The run had special significance for the pair: Neve was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 3 and has been attending the camp — affectionately called Camp Ooch — since she was 5 years old.

“It was really good,” Neve said of the run. “Really fun.”

More than 22,000 people ran, walked and jogged down Yonge St. Sunday in the annual 10-kilometre event, which is co-sponsored by the Star.

This year, 40 families who’ve had children attend Camp Ooch participated in the race, the highest number ever, said Lisa Nightingale, the communications officer for Camp Ooch.

Sunday was Neve’s first time doing the run. “I wanted to do it last year, but my mom forgot to sign me up,” she points out, laughing.

sporting life 10k starting

More than 22,000 runners signed up for the annual charity event.  (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)

She loves camp, she said, adding it feels like a family where everyone is welcome.

“Camp Ooch is a big part of the healing process,” her mother said. “I think without Camp Ooch, I don’t know if we’d be here today.”


Padulo has been doing the run since Neve first attended the camp.

“(Camp) was an integral part of our life because she couldn’t go to regular activities,” Padulo said. “(Neve) had to go to a safe place where there were doctors, where there were nurses. And everybody was so friendly and helpful. It was a place where she could be a kid.”

Camp Ooch makes it possible for kids with cancer to attend camp by having on-site chemotherapy and blood transfusions.


“It’s events like the Sporting Life 10K that allow us to send more kids who need that sophisticated kind of care to a camp that has a medical facility to be able to manage their health care while giving them a chance to experience camp,” said Alex Robertson, the CEO of Camp Ooch.

sporting life 10k runners

The annual Sporting Life 10K run took place on Sunday starting near Yonge and Eglinton and concluding in Coronation Park.   (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)

Peter Evans, also known by his camp name, Hawk, is a longtime volunteer at Camp Ooch. He and four of his friends dressed up as members of the Justice League this year to do the run.

“We’re all volunteers so we all know how important this camp is,” Evans said.

Collectively, they raised $37,000 leading up to the race.

“The kids are some of the nicest, sweetest, most genuine kids you can meet,” Evans said.

“The interesting part about Camp Ooch is they show up and they talk and they operate like adults . . . it’s because a lot of their childhood life they’ve been around adults and doctors and they’ve never had a chance to be silly and act like kids.”

The camp transforms them, Evans said, adding, “As long as I’m able to, I’ll be back every year.”

Runners hit the streets for 21st annual Sporting Life 10K Run
Sunday, May 14, 2017

by Hilary Caton

running hands raised

Runners took over the streets of Toronto and pounded the pavement on Mother’s Day to help raise funds for Camp Oochigeas.

Around 27,000 participants laced up their sneakers and ran 10-kilometres for the Sporting Life 10K. Dubbed Canada’s easiest and fastest routes, runners started at 2400 Yonge St. and ended at Fort York Boulevard.

The run started at 7:30 a.m.

The camp provides children with and affected by cancer the chance to just be kids at camp. It operates year round and is the only camp in Ontario to offer on-site chemo ad blood transfusions. Kids attend the camp for free thanks to donors and fundraising efforts. 


Thousands raise funds for kids' summer camps at Sporting Life 10K
Sunday, May 14, 2017

All road closures are expected to be clear by 12:30pm ET

CBC News

sporting life 10k

Runners gathered ahead of Sunday's Sporting Life 10K running and walking event before starting the journey south down to the lake. (Lauren Pelley/CBC)

Sunday's Sporting Life 10K run and walk has ended, with thousands of participants making the trip from north of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue down to the finish at Fort York, in an effort to raise money for a summer camp for children living with cancer. 

The first of seven waves of runners took off at 7:30 a.m., and a medal ceremony was held in Coronation Park, on Lake Shore Boulevard West, shortly before 10 a.m.

Helene Jifne has participated in the event for three straight years along with her family. "All for the kids," she told CBC Toronto. (CBC)

The annual race raises funds for Oochigeas camps, which host kids with various types of childhood cancers.

According to the race website, more than $15 million has been raised through these annual runs since 2000. 

sporting life 10k runners

The run and walk was open to children as young as eight and drew thousands from all across the GTA. (CBC)

Helene Jifne completed the course with her family for the third consecutive year.

"It was incredible. I do it every year," she said. "It's all for the kids."

Erin Stevenson ran for the second time this year. As a kid she used to love going to camp, so she wanted to help raise money so other children can experience the same enjoyment. (CBC)

Jifne said she started participating because she grew up going to summer camp, and said she'd like every kid to have the same kind of opportunity.

Sunday's race forced multiple temporary road closures along the route, however organizers and police expected all roads would be clear for traffic by 12:30 p.m.

sporting life finish line

The run and walk finished near Fort York, with an after party at a nearby park on the lake. (CBC)

Derringer in the Morning: Alex Robertson, Executive Director of Camp Oochigeas
Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jamie from CP24 visits Camp Oochigeas
Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Yatri Shah, and her son Vahin run for Team Shiven at Camp Ooch's 10K race this Sunday, in memory of her late son Shiven.
Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Record-setting Curl For Kids in Norwood
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Peterborough This Week

By Bill Freeman

Norwood - Local curlers and private donors raised a record-setting $12,200 for an acclaimed camp program for kids with cancer. 

The twenty-sixth annual Curl for Kids bonspiel at the Norwood Curling Club has become a January staple drawing curlers from around the region with funds raised earmarked for Camp Oochigeas. 

Camp Ooch is the only residential camp in Ontario with onsite IV chemotherapy treatment and blood transfusions. Since its inception in 1983, it’s expanded to offer a year-round camp in Muskoka for kids six to 18, programs at Sick Kids Hospital and Ooch Downtown as well as other regional pediatric cancer treatment centres. 

Over the past 25 years the bonspiel organized by Marilyn and Bruce Wharram has raised over $100,000 for the camp. 

“It is amazing,” Marilyn said during the spiel which attracted 16 teams and at least three tables of donated prizes and a silent auction display. 

Thirty-three businesses, three service groups and over 50 private donors provided contributions for this year’s spiel, a fact that astounds the Wharrams and their helpers. 

“It’s not just local. People from Peterborough donate every year,” she added. 

Marilyn and her husband Bruce “feel good” about what they’ve been able to do for Camp Ooch over the years; as the spiel has grown so has the camp. In 2015, 4,794 people participated in overnight and in-city programs and there were 8,543 patient interactions through its hospital programs. 

The Wharram’s lost their daughter Tammy to leukemia nearly 30 years ago and wish a similar program had been available. 

“It’s pretty magical what they do,” said Marilyn. She and her husband have visited the camp and Ooch in the city and have built up a relationship with board members, volunteers and staff. 

She has watched eyes light up when children in the Sick Kid’s clinic learn the Wharrams help Camp Ooch. 

“As long as I get that kind of reaction I’m going to keep doing it. The kids are just so happy.” 

Placing first in the A Draw was Larry Sullivan’s rink with Lori Sullivan, Diane Pagett and Marianne Kelly; Neil Stockdale in second with Julie Tufts, Dan Pichie and Christine Pichie. The B Draw winner was Paul Cole’s rink of Ian Cole, Brian Gee and Pat McGriskin followed by Mac Danford’s team of Pauline Garden and Pete Danford.

Kiehl's Canada supports Camp Oochigeas
Monday, December 19, 2016

Kiehl's Canada has launched four charitable initiatives across the country just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The cosmetic company will be selling one special limited edition skin care product for each of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Western Canada areas.

In B.C. any purchase of the Kiehl's Jeremyville limited edition Ultra Face Cream 125 ml will be supporting the BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre Foundation and help funding critical equipment the hospital needs.

For Quebec it's the limited edition Jeremyville Creme de Corps 250ml that will be used to generate the charitable funds. Those will go towards The Véro & Louis Foundation, which provide support for people 21 and older living with autism.

Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation based out of Edmonton, Alberta will be the beneficiary of any sales from the limited edition Jeremyville Creme de Corps. Stollery's foundation works towards raising funds for the many health care challenges ill children in Western Canada face.

Finally, Kiehl's consumers in Ontario who purchase the Jeremyville Creme de Corps will be helping support Camp Oochigeas, a privately funded volunteer-based organization that helps send children with cancer to camp. Camp Oochigeas serves an estimated1,500 families across Ontario.

"For decades, Kiehl's has continuously given back to communities it serves by targeting philanthropic endeavors based on the needs and concerns of its citizens," said the company in a promotional release about the products.

"This holiday season, we seek to further spread the spirit of giving through a new program that supports local children's organizations across the country to share joy with all during this festive season."


Charity bike ride coming through Uxbridge on Sunday benefits children with cancer
Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Ride for Karen was started in 2002 and has raised more than $2.2 million for charity.

UXBRIDGE -- The Ride for Karen charity bike ride, which runs through Uxbridge, has raised more than $2.2 million to help send kids with cancer to camp and will raise even more during its 15th event on Aug. 28. Kris and Kirk Tobias started the Ride for Karen to honour their mother, who died from breast cancer in 2002.

Their mother was a nurse, and she carried those instincts with her when she received her chemotherapy.

“It was almost like she was working, she’d be chatting with other patients, helping,” said Kris, who would go with her to the hospital.

Kris and Kirk described her help with other cancer patients as “building hope,” and they’ve continued with that idea in their charity ride, adopting the motto ‘riding hard, building hope’.
“Building hope often times comes down to providing the forum,” Kirk said.

That forum could be the ride, where cancer survivors, family members, or people currently fighting the disease can have a healing experience, or it could be the pediatric oncology camps the ride benefits where kids with cancer get the chance to be kids. 
“We’re trying to give these people an opportunity to feel normal, because they are normal,” said Kirk.
 It’s great to see the kids at the camps playing, swimming, and laughing like kids should added Kirk.

“It’s a normal experience for them,” he said. “It’s very nice to see that.”
They hope that by raising money to send those kids to camp, they can help make their time with cancer easier.
 “We really believe care and quality of life is critical,” Kris added.

The idea to chose children as the beneficiaries of the ride comes from their mother.

“We looked at how much she loved her grandchildren,” Kirk said.

Since the Ride for Karen started in 2002, it has raised over $2.2 million which has helped kids with cancer go to camps like Camp Quality, Camp Trillium, and Camp Oochigeas.

The 15th Ride for Karen happens on Aug. 28 and starts at the Markham Fair Grounds. The ride features 3 different lengths including 100 km, 160 km, and 200 km. The two longer courses run through Uxbridge, which Kris praises as a great place to cycle. 
“These are some of the finest roads to ride on in Southern Ontario,” he said.

To find out more information about the Ride for Karen and to register, visit

Shane MacDonald is a reporter with Metroland Media Group’s Durham Region Division and covers Uxbridge. He can be reached at

Monday, August 22, 2016

Four swimmers have continued a fairly recent annual tradition to raise money for a local charity summer camp.

On Monday morning, Moose FM Summer Squad member Jess Craymer joined three others in swimming 10 kilometers from the Bracebridge Falls to Allport Marina along the Muskoka River to raise money for Camp Ooch.

Craymer says she spent quite a few weeks in the pool preparing for the swim, but actually taking it on was an amazing feeling.

She says the original fundraising goal was $3,000, but when they hit that goal quicker than expected they pushed it to $5,500.

Craymer says just after the swim they had come very close to that number.

Camp Ooch provides the summer camp experience for kids who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Swim organizer Louise Hammond has been involved in this fundraising initiative for the past five years.

If you are interested in donating to the camp you can click here.

Bracebridge athletes swim 10K for kids on Muskoka River
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BRACEBRIDGE – One at a time four athletes emerged from the water after a 10-kilometre swim for kids.

This is the fifth year Louise Hammond has raised money for Camp Oochigeas, a camp for children battling cancer.

She and three friends who she swims with at the Bracebridge Sportsplex entered the water at the base of the falls at 7 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 15 near the silver bridge and, with a flotilla of canoes and kayaks, made their way down the Muskoka River to Allport Marina, the first arriving shortly after 10 a.m.

Hammond was emotional as she exited the water at the boat ramp. She was moved by the welcome greeting her at her destination as well as by those who cheered her on along the way.

Hammond, a teacher at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, said they expect to raise about $5,500 for the camp from this year’s swim. They had already raised $5,200 and donations were still coming in at the time of the swim.

In fact, one donation came during the swim, as a woman swam up to one of the canoes and handed over a slightly damp $20 bill.

“(Camp Oochigeas is) trying to increase enrollment by 50 per cent because of the need,” said Hammond. She said this means increasing facilities at the camp including a medical shed, dining hall and a place for families to be near their children should the need arise.

The first of the swimmers to reach their destination was Marilyn Smart, who was swimming alongside Hammond for her third year.

“It’s a good challenge to be honest but its also such a good cause,” she said.

Jessica Craymer was on her second tour of the river for the cause.

“I’m a little more sore this year than last year but I think I had a better time this year,” she said.

She said last year she had the destination in mind whereas this year her concentration was on swimming stronger and faster.

Craymer said it is not only a nice community event but there is a sense of personal fulfillment that comes along with a 10-kilometre swim.

Hammond was the third of the swimmers who made it to the marina but she wasn’t slowed at all. She and Michael Forth often push each other at the pool and, since he lagged slightly behind her, it didn’t take Hammond long to hop in the front of one of the canoes that escorted her in and join his crew on the way in.

This was the first year for Forth who said he was feeling good about the swim when it was done.

Forth has been involved in the swim previously but said his efforts were in donations and support over the past few years. This year he gave it a try using Hammond as inspiration.

For more information about the swim or to donate visit and to learn more about Camp Oochigea.s visit

Muskoka run for Camp Ooch this weekend!
Thursday, July 28, 2016


Bracebridge Examiner
By Samantha Beattie

MINETT – One of Camp Ooch’s largest fundraising events of the year will take place this weekend, drawing in hundreds from the Muskoka region.

Camp for cancer kids moving ahead...
The Muskoka Rocks Road Race is “a big deal for us and is about spreading the word about Camp Oochigeas in our community,” said Camp Ooch’s Lisa Nightingale.

The 10-kilometer and five-km road races are in support of the only overnight camp in Ontario that offers on-sight IV chemotherapy treatment and transfusion. Camp Ooch’s setup ensures kids living with and affected by childhood cancer can still enjoy the tradition of overnight camp in Muskoka.

Camp Ooch also offers year-round programs. Along with Muskoka, Camp Ooch operates in downtown Toronto, the Hospital for Sick Children and in other hospitals across Ontario.

“My favourite part is seeing the community of people who come together and rally around sending kids to camp,” said Nightingalel about the fundraising event. “Everyone has been touched by cancer, so this event resonates.”

The road race will take place on Sunday, July 31 at the Peninsula Recreation Centre in Minett, beginning at 8:30 a.m. There will also be a Magical Muskoka one-km walk/run for kids.

So far, about 250 participants have signed up. The goal is to raise $30,000.

Since the Muskoka Rocks Road Race began 13 years ago, participants have raised more than $580,000 for Camp Ooch. It is a charitable organization that receives no hospital or government funding and relies on community and individual support.


Local gala for Camp Ooch raises $100K in Haddan Eby’s honour
Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016 

Aurora Banner
By Teresa Latchford

A local gala has raised $100,000 to help children living with cancer or affected by the disease attend camp.

Camp Oochigeas, affectionately known as Ooch, has been providing camp experiences for children with and affected by childhood cancer at no cost since 1983.

Ooch is the only overnight camp in the province to offer on-site IV chemotherapy treatment and blood transfusions.

It also offers year-round programs in Muskoka, at The Hospital for Sick Children and other pediatric hospitals and regional healthcare centres.

Locally, the Haddan Eby Endowment Fund was created to honour Haddan, an eight-year-old from Aurora who lost her battle with cancer in May 2010.

It was designed to help provide sustainable funding for future programs and to give other children the magical and joyous experience Haddan had at the camp.

“I remember thinking I was crazy letting my seven-year-old go away for two weeks,” Haddan’s mother, Kim Plato-Eby said.

“But when I went to pick her up, she told me to go home because she didn’t want to leave.

“This shy little girl went to camp and had become a completely different child.”

Funds for the camp are raised through a biennial gala organized by the endowment fund, the most recent of which was held at the Magna Golf Course June 3, with 88 cents of every dollar going to help Ooch expand, redevelop the existing 400-acre site and increase camper enrolment by 50 per cent.

The current camper count is 1,200 children.

But the Find The Joy, A Night at Camp fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the volunteers who organize and run the event or the generosity of local sponsors, such as NewRoads Automotive Group, according to Plato-Eby.

“We are thrilled to, in our small way, be a part of it,” NewRoads owner/president Michael Croxon said.

“We try to give our guests a little taste of the experience these children have at this camp,” Plato-Eby said. “Everyone says it’s the best gala they have ever been too.”

The décor has a distinct camp feel, guests are given friendship bracelets, camp volunteers sing a grace dinner song and games are played before settling in to dinner. The 200 guests in attendance were also treated to live music, an auction and a presentation of what Ooch is along with a video of the campers.

“I like to watch the guests watch the video, to see their reaction,” she admitted. “My favourite part of the night is the presentation about the camp when guests get to see how big of an impact it has on these children’s lives.”

Gravenhurst, Bracebridge women ride to send kids with cancer to camp
Friday, May 27, 2016

GRAVENHURST - Three women from the area will be embarking on a charity bike ride to send kids with cancer to camp.

This August Sue Carley from Gravenhurst, Ann-Marie Baker from Bracebridge and her twin sister Marian Davidson from Bomanville will take part in Tour for Kids, a three-day cycling event, riding 100 kilometres per day for three days.

Tour for Kids raises money for kids cancer camps in Ontario: Camp Oochigeaus, Camp Quality and Camp Trillium. All money raised by the riders and volunteers goes to sending kids with cancer to camp, so they can have camp experiences and still get medical care if needed.
This year the three women are riding for three kids that are living with cancer.

One child, Marcus Baksh was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma last year at age 13. They found tumours in his pelvis and the bottom of his spine and it spread into his bone marrow. He has been receiving treatment from SickKids Hospital and has been taking an experimental drug that has shrunk his primary tumour by 30 per cent and his bone marrow is clear on one side. He has been doing remarkably well and continues to fight this disease. His parents Marissa and Anthony and younger siblings Andre, Dylan and Bryanna are fighting along with him every step of the way. Marcus is in Grade 9 and playing hockey with the Clarington Toros Bantam A team
Tour for Kids helps send kids with cancer to camp to enjoy everything that camp has to offer. They don’t have to worry about what they look like or if they are having a bad day and not feeling that great as everyone is the same. They can still get the necessary treatments while at camp and can enjoy the camp activities with the other kids.

Tour for kids funding means the children with cancer and their families can take a break from their stresses while enjoying a camp experience just like other kids.

What makes Tour for Kids stand out above the rest is our 100 per cent donation model.
Sue Carley has been involved with Tour for Kids for five years, volunteering for four years and riding in 2013 when she raised $6,000 for the kids.

Sue, Ann-Marie and Marian have a fundraising goal of $2,000 each and will be out throughout Muskoka and Bomanville. They will be set up on their bikes and a trainer and will spin for hours at different locations to fundraise and to bring awareness to the importance of this ride and helping kids with cancer.

The ride happens Aug. 12 to 14 and will start and finish each day at Georgian College in Barrie. Each day riders take a different route, going in to areas like Pretty River, Collingwood, Awenda Provincial Park and Tiny beaches. A new route has been added this year to Upper Big Chute, Honey Harbour and Port Severn. Riders will choose to ride routes that are 100 kilometres, 160 kilometres or 200 kilometres a day.

To donate to the ride go to Tour for click on donate and enter one of the three riders.


Marsh children surpass their fundraising goal for camp for kids with cancer. Ella, Jacob and Cameron Marsh raised $3,581 in the Mother's Day run for Camp Ooch in Toronto
Friday, May 20, 2016

Kawartha Lakes this week

By Mary Riley

LINDSAY - A Lindsay family is thanking the community for its support of three siblings who took part in a run to raise money for a camp for children with caner.

Denise Marsh says her children, Ella, Jacob and Cameron were part of a team of runners, ‘Jack’s Pack’ - named after their cousin who was first diagnosed with leukemia at age six.

According to its website Camp Oochigeas (Ooch) “is a privately funded, volunteer-based organization that provides kids with and affected by childhood cancer with unique opportunities for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences.”

The camp has several sites, including Muskoka, several pediatric hospitals and an urban recreational facility in Toronto.

Ella took part in the run for Camp Ooch on Mother’s Day in Toronto last year. Her brothers were too young at the time, but this year, all three finished the race, raising $3,581.

“Mother’s Day was a brisk morning; however the energy and excitement of the runners kept the kids in positive moods waiting for their run to participate in one of the larger road races in Toronto,” Ms Marsh said in an email.“

Ella, Jacob and Cameron ran a great race and had smiles the whole way...Not only did they finish the race they also broke their fundraising target of $3,500 with the support of family, friends, neighbours and the Lindsay community.”She added that Jack’s Pack raised more than $27,000 this year; in the five years they have run they have exceeded $100,000; sending more than 28 children to Camp Ooch for two weeks.

“The Marsh family would like to thank everyone who donated, including the local Loblaws where they were able to ask community members for their support.”

For more on Camp Ooch, visit

An 'extreme change' for one boy at this year's Sporting Life 10 km run
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

henri mckinneyHenri McKinney learned he had cancer on his 10th birthday.

Doctors at Sick Kids hospital diagnosed him rhabdomyosarcoma, a malignant tumour of muscle, in May 2014. Amid a procession of doctors and nurses in white lab coats and scrubs, Henri met staff of Camp Oochigeas, a privately funded, volunteer-driven organization that leads activities for kids affected by cancer.

The next year, after surgery, radiation and still undergoing chemotherapy, McKinney spent two weeks at Camp Ooch’s sleep-away camp in Muskoka, roasting marshmallows, swimming and wakeboarding.

“It was a chance to be silly in a year that was not,” said his mother, Nancy, after the Sporting Life 10-kilometre run Sunday to raise money for the camp.

The McKinney family joined the waves of 24,000 runners who jogged from Yonge St. and Roselawn Ave. to the finish line near Exhibition Place. As the McKinneys went into the home stretch, a few of Henri’s former camp counsellors spotted him from a distance and cheered him on, Nancy said.

The event raised a record $2.1 million this year for the camp, the only one in Canada equipped to deliver intravenous chemotherapy or blood transfusions, with oncologists and nurses on site.

This was the second time that Henri, who turns 12 this month, has run in the event. Last summer — still weak from a round of chemo only four days earlier — he managed to complete the race using a baby jogger.

“He walked and kind of jogged across the finish line. This year was such an extreme change,” his mother said, smiling. His last MRI shows he is "clear" of cancer, but he continues to be monitored by oncologists, she added.

Henri, who didn’t seem to have broken a sweat this time, caught up with some of his old counsellors and other familiar faces from Camp Ooch afterward, including program specialist Sam Bennett.

Bennett met Henri at Sick Kids in the first weeks after his diagnosis. “He’s really smart and really into board games,” Bennett said, adding, “He whooped my butt at a few of them.”

In addition to the summer camp for kids with cancer (between 6 months and 18 years old) and their siblings, Camp Ooch operates a downtown recreation centre and holds arts and crafts and other camp-style activities in hospitals across southern Ontario year-round.

“In a hospital, it’s one of the only things that isn’t medical,” said Bennett. “It’s not a needle or another appointment or X-ray; it’s just fun.”

About 880 kids under 15 are diagnosed with cancer each year, according to the 2011 Canadian Cancer Registry from Statistics Canada. It is the second leading cause of death among Canadian kids.

Since 1983, Camp Ooch has provided respite to kids battling the disease. A typical day there starts with a group swim, a trip to the “med shed” for the kids undergoing chemotherapy, followed by a big breakfast in the dining hall, said the camp’s CEO Alex Robertson. Afternoons are filled with rock climbing and water sports. Last summer, Robertson saw a boy get up on water-skis for the first time soon after treatment.

“The coolest part about seeing that happen was seeing the reaction from his cabin mates,” Robertson said, “because they know the challenges he’s been up against.

“For him, getting up on both skis is about so much more than water-skiing. It’s about overcoming challenges, persevering and embracing hope and the power of friendship.”

'The fact it is driven by youth is amazing'
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

By PJ Wilson The Nugget

Tuesday May 17

'The Fudge Lady' looked over the students sitting on the grass at the North Bay waterfront Tuesday as she told her story.

The students from West Ferris Secondary School were dressed in multi-coloured T-shirts, each representing a distinct type of cancer.

The Fudge Lady – Nancy Adams – told of her sister’s fight against cancer, one that spanned 19 years before her death last year.

“I don’t think anyone here today has not been touched by cancer,” Adams said.

“I can to this day remember very clearly where I was when I got the phone call from my sister, that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Adams helped her sister through her battle.

“She fought hard, she fought long,” Adams said. “She lived with cancer because of the work people like you do.”
Tuesday was the 23rd annual Trojan Parade for Cancer, an event that has raised almost $230,000 over the years, including $10,060 Tuesday.

It also marked the final year West Ferris teacher Nat Brunette will be at the helm of the event. She’s been organizing the parade for the past 15 years, but she’s retiring in June.

“I’m very proud we have continued the tradition,” she said before students began the walk from West Ferris Secondary School to the waterfront Tuesday morning.

“I’m confident someone will pick up the torch to continue it.”

Brunette said she was particularly proud of the students who organize and participate in the event.

Kayla Leblond is one of the committee members and is herself a cancer survivor. The Grade 10 student was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was six, undergoing nine months of treatment in Toronto.

She just went for another checkup last week, and “everything is good.”

The parade, Leblond said, is a great event for her and others fighting cancer.

“You know the money really helps support people,” she said. “People in hospital really appreciate that people are doing this for them.”

In comments at the rally at the waterfront, Leblond said she was officially declared cancer-free in 2009.

“Things were hard,” she said. “But I got through it.”

And with the support from West Ferris students Tuesday, she said, “we are one step closer to   making cancer history.”

Also serving on the committee is Danne Ryan. It’s her first year helping to organize it, and she admits it was a lot of work, “but it was worth it.

“This makes me proud to be with this school,” Ryan said.

Organizers presented four cheques at the waterfront from the funds raised. One for $560 went to the family of former West Ferris student Matt Tucker, who is fighting his own battle with cancer, to help with the expenses he faces.

Camp Oochigeas, a summer camp for young patients battling the disease, received a cheque for $1,000, while the Canadian Cancer Society received a cheque for $2,000 from intermediate students and one for $6,500 from secondary students from separate fundraising initiatives.

“This is huge for us,” said Gil Phar and, manager of the North Bay and District Community Office for the Canadian Cancer Society.

“The thing with this is it is organized by students . . . who have chosen our cause as their cause.

“The fact it is driven by youth is amazing.”

Pharand also noted that survival rates for people fighting cancer are increasing due to ongoing research.

Ode to the good old days
Thursday, May 05, 2016

Stouffville Sun-Tribune

By Jim Thomas

As a young lad growing up on a dairy farm back in the 1930s and ‘40s, I often reflect on what some still refer to as “the good old days”.

Ah yes, “the good old days”.

Like milking cows for goodness sake that made my wrists feel like they would break.

The sting of a tail that continually switched or pain from a bovine that repeatedly kicked.

Lifting wheat sheaves as heavy as lead, cranking a tractor with the battery dead.

Trying to plow so level and straight with a moving cow as a headland stake.

Returning from church on a Sunday morn to find the herd had ravaged the corn.

The cabbages harvested and the cauliflower tied but the tomato crop had all been fried.

A silo so full, no reason to frown, then Hurricane Hazel blew it all down.

Oats and barley, wheat fields all, destroyed by hail the size of golf balls.

The vegetable garden caught in the storm’s path, fell to the fury of mother nature’s wrath.

Building up muscles hard as a rock, worked by the calendar, not by the clock.

Walking to school, what a bad rap, traces of cow hair still on my cap.

Finding all classes cancelled that day, turned and walked home, no reason to stay.

Snowbanks as high as telephone wires, two suits of woollies were common attire.

Temperatures hovering at 20 below, even more grief than the depth of the snow.

Morning wake-ups weren’t so nice with all of the chamber pots coated with ice.

But the outhouse was handy, it sure was a dandy, no time to sit and recline.

For protruding thistles felt like missiles targeting someone’s behind.

A Findlay stove had its own alcove belching out heat day and night.

The family cat was content to nap dreaming of food other than mice.

It was there we studied our next day’s lesson, oblivious of a radio’s transgression.

For Foster Hewitt was a hockey summit even if it meant a detention.

But work and some play was mixed in with each day, the ‘good’ would play a role.

A Saturday dip was a weekly trip to the neighbour’s old swimming hole.

There we’d swim and we’d dive, our lives came alive, all aches and pains were forgotten.

We’d share the location, a forbidding creation, with cow flaps ill-begotten.

To roller skate at Wilcox Lake was an activity we all enjoyed.

After working all day in the straw and the hay, this skill we each employed.

Another feature was the movie theatre, old Stanley in Stouffville for sure.

We travelled in class, a convertible no less, hoping some girls we could lure.

But town gals were clever, they never, no never, accepted our welcoming bids.

They wanted no part of a smooch in the park with we common country kids.

At Sunday school we learned the gold rule, excuses were never believed.

The walk there and back was a matter of fact, our parents were never deceived.

Hockey of course was a driving force and rinks were readily available.

Frozen ponds were prime when we had free time and competition always obtainable.

Street dances were grand with the Billy Hole band, folks came from miles around.

Rock ‘n roll tunes, a barn dance or two, dancers enjoyed the sound.

I truly feel bad and a trifle sad at the enjoyment I understood.

Knowing kids today won’t be able to say their old days were really that good.

Charitable act

More than 800 students attending Stouffville’s Glad Park Public School, will participate in a Charity Walk today, with all proceeds going to Camp Oochigeas in Muskoka, a site welcoming children with cancer.
A goal of $3,500 has been set. This is the first such campaign for Glad Park.
“We’re hoping it will become an annual event,” says staff Vanessa Alexan.
Other staff assistants are – Megan Morrow and Danielle Gignac.
The primary children, kindergarten to Grade 3 will do their ‘tour of duty’ within the school yard.
Others, grades 4 to 8, will walk two blocks west on Millard St., beginning at 1:30 p.m.          

Jim Thomas is a Stouffville resident who has written for area newspapers for more than 65 years.

Potters’ Guild helps Camp Ooch
Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trent Hills Independent By Bill Freeman                 

Norwood – The Kawartha Potters’ Guild is giving Camp Oochigeas a boost thanks to inspiration from its youngest artisans. For the past two years, youth at the Guild’s summer camp have sold pottery with profits going to their chosen cause and this past year they picked Camp Ooch, a residential camp for children with cancer that has grown to offer programs at Sick Kids Hospital, its Ooch Downtown site on Bathurst Street and other regional treatment centres.        
Potters' Guild                

“We have raised enough to buy a wheel and now we’re working towards buying a kiln for the camp,” said board member Lee-Ann Choquette, who was at the 25th annual Curl for Kids bonspiel in Norwood selling unique pottery. For years, long-time Guild member and past chair Lillian Forrester has donated pottery to the bonspiel.                        

“We thought it would be good to do,” says Choquette. “We do try to reach out to the community in different ways. Camp Ooch seemed like a wonderful fit.”                        

The Guild is also a long-time supporter of the YWCA’s Empty Bowls program.                        

Two years ago the Guild realized a two-decade-old dream after moving into its Talwood Drive facility in Peterborough where they have a gallery, sell items, run workshops and popular classes for people of all levels of  experience.                        

“It’s been a long-time dream for many people who have been part of that,” says Choquette.                        

One of the classes is the Clay & Play summer day camp for youth which incorporates games into its program.                        

Youth showing support for a camp serving children with cancer is an awesome initiative, says Choquette, who notes how excited young people are to “do clay.”                        

“They want to make stuff; they want to get creative with stuff. It’s like magic; their faces light up and they go ‘Wow, I made this.’ It’s awesome to watch that process. Everyone wants to get on the wheel and make something.                        

“The wonderful thing about pottery is that somehow you get so lost in what you’re doing that you forget about time and things and it’s a wonderful experience that way. You can create something that’s useful and special. With minimal time and effort you can produce something. It’s a lot of fun to do.”                        

Choquette lives in the Norwood area and is pleased the Guild is able to help Camp Ooch.                        

“I’m happy to be here.”

Award winning Tattoo Shop makes a difference for kids with and affected by childhood cancer.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Camp Ooch One 

By Paul Fitzgerald – The Toronto Tribune

It was a day of smiles, a day of laughter and a day filled with joy.

Most of all it was a day that kids battling cancer didn’t have to think about being sick; it was a day that allowed kids with and affected by childhood cancer to simply be kids.

You see, in late October, Camp Oochigeas (Ooch) in downtown Toronto, ON, hosted a Halloween event for a large number of kids battling cancer. The Halloween Howl attracted scores of Camp Ooch campers and their families. The event had so many highlights: a costume party, pumpkin carving, spook-tacular crafts and a Halloween campfire.

Camp Ooch has experienced huge growth since its inception over 30 years ago. Often referred to as the social cure for cancer, Camp Ooch has expanded programs year-round in Muskoka, at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Ooch Downtown and various other cancer centres across Ontario.

Camp Ooch three

A highlight for the over 200 kids at this year’s Halloween Howl included a visit from award winning artists from Chronic Ink Tattoo who shared their talent, time and treasure by offering professional face-painting for the kids.

“It’s a tradition of ours to do face painting every year at Halloween, and this year it was even more special to be able to do it at Camp Ooch. I think our artists were more excited than the kids,” says Ricky Fung, the co-founder and co-owner of Chronic Ink.

“For me and our team of artists (Whitney, Zeke, Martin, Karen, Kevin and Livia) it was such a rewarding feeling helping kids with cancer just be kids. The smiles and laughter were contagious and Camp Ooch is an organization that will remain close to our hearts both now and forever.”

Fung recently attended the annual Camp Ooch Open House in Muskoka and saw first-hand the ‘Magic of Ooch’.”

“When I went to Camp Ooch, I was blown away by the activity. I was greatly moved by the tangibility of the cause. At Ooch, you see the smiles on the kids’ faces; you hear their laughter; you see the hugs being shared, you know immediately your contribution is making a real difference,” says Fung. “After I left that afternoon, I couldn’t stop thinking: ‘I can’t tell who is helping who more – the kids or the people who are fortunate to be around them’.”

Paresa Amin, who is the Manager of the In-City Programs at Ooch Downtown, says “Chronic Ink helped make the Halloween Howl extra special for our Campers”.

“It is always great to see kids laughing and participating in the many activities happening at our annual Camp Ooch Halloween Howl. Face-painting by Ricky and his team of artists from Chronic Ink was certainly a popular station for our campers. They loved it. The team of artists came dressed in costumes showing their Camp spirit, and we are grateful for their contribution to making the day a huge success” says Amin.

Camp Ooch two

For Fung a personal highlight was personally meeting Mark Watkins, whose daughter Sarah passed away in late 2014 from cancer at the age of seven. Sarah was a member of the Ooch community and participated in programs at the Hospital for Sick Children, Ooch Downtown and Ooch Muskoka. During two years of aggressive chemotherapy Sarah continued to find laughter, joy and delight in activities that allowed her the simple pleasure of being a kid. Shortly after Sarah’s passing, Watkins looked for an opportunity to commemorate his daughter and wound up getting a tattoo at Chronic Ink in her memory. On his right upper arm a large tattoo reads the name Sarah.

Camp Ooch Four

“It was so touching meeting Mark. Seeing Mark there with our tattoo, knowing we did a good job for him, especially in that setting was a very special moment.” says Fung.

Watkins applauds the volunteer efforts by Fung and his team of professional artists.

“All I can say is a huge thanks to Chronic Ink for helping put smiles on kids’ faces,” says Watkins. “What they did on Halloween was remarkable on every level: they let kids forget about having cancer, they made them smile, and they made them laugh. They let kids with cancer just be kids.”

Watkins is an advocate of Camp Ooch. “When our daughter Sarah was hospitalized, Camp Ooch was there for her and for us from day one to offer support. My wife and I lived at the hospital and their support helped in ways that are unexplainable. Camp Ooch provides happiness; Camp Ooch touches kids’ lives in such a positive way.”

Chronic Ink plans to support Camp Ooch even more in 2016.

“My mother passed away from lung cancer so this is very personal for me,” says Fung. “I think good businesses should be extensions of our beliefs so we’re going to do a lot more work with Camp Ooch. You’re going to see their presence integrated into our physical space, our digital messaging, and most importantly, we want this compassion to be the foundation of the culture.”

Benefit to fight cancer hits home for Woodbine jockey
Thursday, November 05, 2015

By Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun

Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday afternoon.

Clearly, he was in some pain, but he didn’t want to talk about it. One thing about thoroughbred jockeys, they’re some of the toughest athletes in the world. Unlike other pros, they don’t get paid unless they compete. There are no guaranteed contracts.

Not that Stein would whine or complain anyway. The B.C. native is toughness personified and after what he and his family have had to endure this year, a sore leg is the least of his worries.

This past winter, Stein’s youngest son Gavin had to undergo treatment at the Hospital for Sick Children for Wilms’ tumor, a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children. Two-year-old Gavin had to endure chemotherapy and then surgery to remove the tumor.

Thankfully, this past August Gavin was given a clean bill of health. But through all the trips back and forth from Sick Kids and talking with parents of other sick children, Stein and his wife Renee decided to give back. And so along with former jockey Robert King, the executive director of the Jockey Benefit Association of Canada, Stein organized a poster-signing campaign at Woodbine this weekend to benefit Camp Oochigeas, a summer camp in Muskoka where kids with cancer can go and just be kids while undergoing on-site chemotherapy and blood transfusions in a laid-back and joyful atmosphere.

“(Fellow Wooodbine jock) Gary Boulanger and I were talking about how jocks used to do a lot of fundraising and how we should be doing that again for Sick Kids,” said Stein. “It’s such a shame to see any child go through that. Gavin was very fortunate compared to some of the kids and families my wife met. We have the resources and the ability to help, so Gary and I decided that we should do something. And Camp Ooch is a very, very important cause.”

All this weekend, jockeys from the Woodbine colony will be on hand at two entrances at the west-end Toronto track signing posters for the cause. And when he wasn’t greeting fans on Saturday, Stein had a job to do on the track, most importantly riding the three-year-old filly Academic in the $158,200 Grade 3 Maple Leafs Stakes.

This year has been an incredible roller-coaster ride for Stein. Away from the track there have been the trials and tribulations with his son Gavin. On the track, there have been some huge triumphs, with Academic a big part of it. In June, prior to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, the biggest race of the season for fillies at Woodbine, Stein was given the ride on Academic after fellow jockey Luis Contreras, who rode the Reade Baker-trained bay to a neck win in the race before, opted to ride Leading Edge for trainer Roger Attfield in the Oaks. Stein then rode Academic to a 1 3/4 length victory at 66-1, setting a track record, and then after a disappointing showing in the Queen’s Plate, rode the Bear Stables-owned filly to victories in the $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park in Edmonton on Aug.15 and then a neck win in the $250,000 B.C. Derby on Sept. 13 at Hastings Park in Vancouver — beating the boys in both races.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Stein, who is currently eighth in the Woodbine jock standings with earnings of over $2,782,000. “Everybody was already committed to other horses and she had a regular rider before that. But she had been working really well and I liked her. She’s a little bit flighty, a little bit of a nervous type of horse, an impatient filly, but they did a really good job with her.

“Leroy (Trotman, Baker’s assistant) had said that he was really happy and amazed with how her and I got along,” Stein added. “She’s been impressive, she ran at three different tracks in four starts, beat the boys twice at two different distances, three different surfaces.”

Despite losing at the wire to the William Mott-trained Flipcup in the Maple Leafs Stakes on Saturday, Academic will almost certainly be named Canadian three-year-old filly horse of the year. Stein had the Spring Farm-bred filly in great shape throughout the 11/4 mile race for fillies and mares three years old and up on the Woodbine poly track, but just didn’t have enough to hold off Flipcup at the end.

Academic set the pace in the Maple Leaf, leading a field of nine through splits of :24.34 and :48.61 under pressure from Club One Two and Midnight Miley. Stein maintained a good hold on Academic down the back straight before letting her open up into the final turn as Finn’s Jewel and Flipcup, the latter picking off horses one by one from next to last, were urged into contention.

Academic maintained a length advantage turning for home, but Contreras-ridden Flipcup, full of run, angled off the rail and surged past Academic for the win, covering the course in 2:03.43.

I lost my leg and my eye to cancer. Then I decided to be a model
Friday, September 25, 2015

"I used to believe that society was always going to define me by what cancer has done to my body."

I was shocked when the modelling agency called about my application, and smiled my way through the first five minutes of the phone conversation.

Then I realized there were a few things the agent clearly didn’t know: I’m an amputee and I also have a prosthetic right eye.

When I explained I’d lost my eye to cancer as a baby and my left leg when I was 13, the lady on the other end of the line was astonished. Then she asked me to come in the next day.

I used to believe that society was always going to define me by what cancer has done to my body. In that moment last spring, I realized it wasn’t so simple.

Cancer has been part of my life since I was born 17 years ago. I was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma when I was 3 months old. When I was 5 months old, surgeons removed my right eye to prevent the cancer from travelling through the optic nerve into my brain.

Thanks to loving parents and great friends, I grew up a happy, active and creative kid.

Tessa Smith lost an eye and a leg to cancer as a child.


Tessa Smith lost an eye and a leg to cancer as a child.

When I was 10, I was offered an opportunity to model. My mom and I were walking in downtown Toronto and a woman handing out business cards for an agency rushed up and insisted we book an appointment.

We went for the interview, but instead I decided to focus on competitive swimming. I trained for about eight hours a week at a local swim club and raced at swim meets.

The severe pain in my left leg started about two and a half years later, a burning, throbbing, stabbing sensation behind the knee that I’ll never forget.

There were regular trips from my home in Peterborough, Ont., to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto for blood tests, scans and clinics. The diagnosis was osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

When the doctors broke the news that I would lose my leg, they told me I had two options for the amputation. Immediately, I chose a procedure called rotationplasty, which is just about the weirdest amputation you can have but is the best one for people who want to stay physically active.

Surgeons amputated from just below my hip to just below my knee, removing the bone and joint that were affected by the tumour. My lower leg was salvaged, brought up to the hip incision, flipped and reattached. My ankle now functions as a replacement knee; it faces backwards and slips into my prosthetic lower leg.

It took more than a year to learn how to walk again without any devices for assistance. Since then it’s been a series of ups and downs. After a fall two years ago, I was left with chronic pain disease and permanent swelling in the foot and ankle that slide into my prosthesis.

The physical changes weren’t the only huge hurdles.

It took a long time to get used to looking down and seeing metal on my left leg instead of skin. It was a tough adjustment even though I knew it had saved my life.

"It took more than a year to learn how to walk again without any devices for assistance."


"It took more than a year to learn how to walk again without any devices for assistance."

Some days I would stand in front of the full-length mirror in my room, with my left leg out of view so I could only see the right side of my body in the reflection. Inch by inch, day by day, I gradually brought myself into full view, learning to accept and love my whole self.

But when I would walk down through the high school hallway or the mall and a cute guy looked at me, I’d be baffled. Was he looking at my leg, my face or just . . . me?

Throughout my surgery and recovery, a thought lingered in the back of my mind. I remembered the modelling agency that approached me when I was 10, and wondered what my prospects would be now.

I decided to find out. A couple of months ago, I contacted a couple of hairstylist and photographer friends.

Within days, I was doing my first photo shoot. I posed wearing my prosthesis and without it. With my hair done, makeup and nice outfits, I felt confident. I think the photographs reflect that.

Even though I was happy with the results, I braced myself for rejection. Not just because of my eye and my amputation, but also because I’m no size 0.

“Currently we do not have any clients seeking models with disabilities,” began the first email from one agency. “But you’re welcome to come for an interview and if we see potential we’ll represent you in any event.”

"When I was 5 months old, surgeons removed my right eye to prevent the cancer from travelling through the optic nerve into my brain."


"When I was 5 months old, surgeons removed my right eye to prevent the cancer from travelling through the optic nerve into my brain."

A second one congratulated me for making it to the first round, adding that they’d call within 24 hours if they were interested in pursuing me. They didn’t, but they hadn’t dismissed me outright either.

Then came the most promising response: “We’d love to meet with you!”

In the end, I had offers to sign, but I turned them down.

I realized I’d already found what I needed. When I’d started the process, I told myself it was to test the limits of what society considers beautiful. The truth is I was actually testing myself.

I came away with the feeling that I’d settled something inside me — and realizing that’s the most important thing. I believe that if you’re confident and like yourself the way you are, other people will feel the same way about you.

I’ve learned that even in the face of enormous physical loss, it’s possible to feel strong, brave and beautiful.


Curling spiel Sept. 25 in Oakville will support children who have cancer
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Oakville Beaver 
Sep 16, 2015                               

Oakville Curling Club will be the venue for the first Rocks for Research charity curling spiel in support of youngsters who have cancer.                        

The event, scheduled for Friday, Sept. 25, will feature celebrity curlers teamed with club curlers and community-minded citizens. Celebrities expected to participate include 2014 Ontario Brier skip Greg Balsdon, 1990 Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Alison Goring, and The Real Estate Talk Show and Cottage Life TV personality Erin McCoy.                        

Teams will play two six-end games and participate in a skills competition, while also raising money for paediatric brain tumour research at Toronto Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids affected by childhood cancer.                        

Three-time brain tumour survivor Tobin Haas will serve as an honourary skip for the day. Tobin, 15, underwent surgery and chemotheraphy when he was two years old and now enjoys good health with several long-term side effects. Each year, he joins hundreds of children affected by childhood cancer at Camp Ooch.                        

The spiel will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at approximately 4 p.m. Cost to participate is $100 per curler, and spaces are still available. A clinic, gourmet lunch and auction will be included as well.                        

For more information, contact Karen Haas at 647-219-0125 or, or Kelly Stronach at 416-720-7345 or

Campers pay it forward
Monday, September 07, 2015

MARMORA – Every long weekend in September campers at the KOA campgrounds in Marmora pay it forward.

On Sunday campers gathered in lawn chairs and under sun umbrellas to participate in the Marmora KOA Auction.

They called out their bids on a wide variety of donated items, from porcelain dolls and fishing rods to six-packs of beer packed in ice - knowing every cent they spend is going towards a worthy cause.

Proceeds from the auctioned off items, donated by both campers and local businesses, goes towards Camp Oochigeas.

Camp Oochigeas is a privately funded, volunteer-based organization which provides children with childhood cancer, as well as kids affected by it, with opportunities for growth through challenging, fun, and enriching experiences.

Kids with, and affected by, childhood cancer, their siblings and their families are helped by the organization 365 days a year with campers ranging from those newly diagnosed and on active treatment to others who may have been in remission for years.

The auction marked its 25th year on Sunday and, not including this year’s tally, has raised more than $44,000.

“It started with the previous owners because their daughter had leukemia,” explained Alexandra Petr, who owns and operates the Marmora KOA campground with her husband Dan.

“This is the 25th anniversary and every year it (money raised) went to Camp Oochigeas,” she added.

“This is our seasonal campers who organize the auction. They do it themselves; they don’t have an auctioneer or anything. It’s all volunteers.”

Maureen Cancilla and her husband Bob are two of the volunteer’s which make the yearly auction happen.

“We would really like to thank all the stores for donating prizes,” she said. “The stores are just fantastic.”

Despite a blistering sun on a lazy Sunday afternoon dozens of campers turned out to take part, laughing and joking and knowing they were all doing a little something to make someone else’s life a little better.


Toronto EMS visits Ooch Downtown - Video clip courtesy of CTV.
Friday, August 28, 2015

Please click on the image below to see CTV's coverage of the Toronto EMS service visiting Ooch Downtown.


Camp OOCH & Toronto Paramedic Services
Friday, August 28, 2015

Please click on the image below to watch the video clip of this generous community donation.


Thanks to all involved in Camp Oochigeas event
Friday, August 28, 2015

Bracebridge Examiner                                

DEAR EDITOR — Just a quick note to thank the many friends and family who came out to aid Camp Oochigeas this past Wednesday, Aug. 19. In what has become an annual event begun by Louise Hammond, three woman entered the water of the Muskoka River at the Bracebridge Falls at 7 a.m., swimming the 10 kilometres to Allport Marnia to raise money and awareness for Camp Oochigeas.                         

Ooch is a magical place where kids with cancer can go and blend in because all the campers are living with cancer and kids are just kids.                        

The first swimmer out of the water was Marilyn Smart, finishing in just three hours. Marilyn is an experienced open water swimmer, having completed the Lake Couchiching crossing 21 times. Second out of the water was Jessica Craymer who celebrated her 21st birthday the following day. This was Jessica’s first time swimming this distance, but she has already completed numerous triathlons. Louise Hammond followed Jessica out of the water in just under three and a half hours.                         

The swimmers were accompanied by a small flotilla of canoes and kayaks and would like to thank all involved for keeping them safe and providing encouragement along the way. Thanks also to the many friends who waited along the route to cheer us on.                        

This is the fourth year for the fundraising swim for Camp Oochigeas and all three women are pleased to have already reached this year’s goal of $4,000. Further donations can be made at                        

Jessica Craymer, Marilyn Smart and Louise Hammond

Campers don’t let cancer stand in their way at Ooch. Teen thrilled to be back at Camp Oochigeas for 5th year.
Saturday, July 25, 2015

By: GTA,       


ROUSSEAU, ONT.—What happens when you arrive late at Camp Oochigeas?

If you’re Faith Vincent, you and your stuffies — a hippo named James and an unnamed raccoon and bear — wind up on the bottom bunk. No big deal for the 13-year-old who is over the moon to be back for her fifth year at the camp for kids with or affected by childhood cancer and their siblings. Some campers are newly diagnosed and on active treatment while others have been in remission for years.

At Ooch, as camp is affectionately known, there’s round the clock care from medical staff including onsite chemotherapy. The only thing that’s on a camper’s to do list is to have an optimum amount of fun.

Faith certainly hasn’t let cancer stand in her way of having the time of her life at Ooch where she loves reuniting with her camp friends who’ve shared a cabin for years as well as meeting new kids.

Faith signs up for all the activities such as archery, outdoor adventure and the challenging ropes course with its supersized swing that gets hiked up by ropes and when you let go — Woo Hoo!

“I was on the swing with another person, and we held hands and screamed,” she says admitting her first fling in the air was really scary. The only drama at Ooch is on stage in the theatre program where Faith, who’s going into Grade 9 at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School in Markham, is a star. Arts and crafts is also fun and Faith is a real pro when it comes to making boondoggles — colourful plastic braided bracelets she wears because they remind her of good times at Ooch.

So does the beaded dream catcher that still hangs on her door. Faith made it one year from a jar lid.

But the teen admits she wasn’t gung ho about going to camp the first time. Her parents had to convince her.

Little did she know she’d adore the people and the place and that she wouldn’t want to leave.

Having been a naysayer, she recommends nervous Niels or Nells give it a try. “Be positive and open to the experience,” Faith advises. “You’ll make awesome friends and always be open to all the activities. And don’t worry about anything at camp because everyone is there to support you.”

Aside from the overnight camp in Muskoka, Ooch also runs day camps at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and three regional centres in southern Ontario as well as Ooch Downtown.

A water bug by nature, Faith can’t get enough of the waterfront activities such as canoeing, kayaking even the daily Polar Bear Dip in the lake at the crack o’ dawn. “It’s cold, very cold.”

These days Faith is all about learning to play the ukulele. She and the other kids are taking lessons as part of the new music program at Ooch. During a recent visit, the kids were rocking it with “Riptide” by Vance Joy. Faith has mastered “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars and is proud of her musical prowess thus far. Camp has a way of helping kids learn new skills and boost confidence.

Camp is also an opportunity for social healing.

“When people get sick, they often lose their sense of identity,” says Marg Wiley, manager of residential programs, adding illness can be isolating. Camp gives kids a chance to be themselves. “There are no sick kids at Ooch.”

When she’s old enough, Faith intends to be on summer staff at Ooch and emulate her role models such as Jenny Edmonds who is a first time volunteer and loving it.

“I love the inclusivity and positive atmosphere at Ooch,” says Jenny, 21. “Everyone is so supportive.”

For her, it’s the children that make a difference. “They’re so inspiring. And camp has given me a great appreciation of people’s inner strengths. 

Goal: $650,000

To Date: $600,216

How to donate: With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat — it gives them a break in life and memories to last a lifetime.

By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6

By credit card: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847

Online: For instant donations, use our secure form at:

The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.


If you have been touched by the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, e-mail or phone 416-869-4309.

Innisfil teen using pedal power in fight against cancer
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Innisfil Journal
By Rick Vanderlinde

James Pomeroy is ready to pedal his way around Simcoe County to help raise money to send kids battling cancer to summer camps.                        

But first the 17-year-old Alcona teen will be cooking up a storm at Sobey’s on Innisfil Beach Road this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to raise money for his fundraising fee for the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation event.                         

Pomeroy will be part of the 100 to 200 km Tour for Kids Ride, which starts and finishes at Georgian College in Barrie from Aug. 14 to Aug. 17.                        

This year’s routes include rides to Pretty River, Collingwood, Awenda Provincial Park and the beaches of Tiny Township.                        

This is Pomeroy’s second Sobey’s barbecue and Tour for Kids Ride. He got started with the event last year, inspired by his mom, Julie.                        

“My mom got involved with the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation in 2003 when she was asked to drive a tractor trailer across Canada as a support vehicle for a group of cyclists,” Pomeroy said. “She’s been involved ever since."                        

This year, Pomeroy is riding for Antonio Volpentesa, a 13-year-old Alcona boy who has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Antonio was made an ambassador of the Cost to Coast Foundation this year.                        

The Tours for Kids Ride supports three camps — Camp Ooch, Camp Quality and Camp Trillium. All proceeds from the event go directly to the camps.                        

For more information visit

Cancer is no barrier to fun at Ooch day camps. First day was a revelation for one volunteer on his way to medical school.
Monday, June 29, 2015

Fresh air fund, Camp Oochigeas

When his former high school teacher suggested Sean Jones volunteer at Camp Oochigeas, he wasn’t sure what to expect at the camp for kids with cancer.

He figured they would be needy, sad, sick kids who spent their days talking about their illnesses and discussing their diagnosis with one another.

What a shock when all they wanted to do at Camp Oochigeas, more affectionately known as Ooch, is have fun — as kids all want to do.

It changed his whole perspective.

“The kids are happy, normal kids who are having a good time and building friendships that last,” says Jones.

“They talk about everything but cancer — like jumping off the deep end in the pool or about what they are reading or what they are going to do for the rest of the day,” says the 22-year-old, who recently graduated from University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in health science. He plans to go to medical school.

In the meantime, he’s having a ball volunteering at Ooch in Markham. From the first day at Ooch, his future “was carved in stone.” Being with the kids was what motivated him to stay.

Serving more than 1,000 children with and affected by cancer each year, various programs now serve siblings, bereaved siblings and parents. Ooch is the only residential camp in Ontario to offer on-site chemotherapy IV treatment and blood transfusions. Programs run year-round in Muskoka, at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Ooch Downtown, as well as in regional cancer centre at Southlake Region Hospital, Rouge Valley Centenary and Credit Valley Hospital.

The day camp in Markham is at Robin Hood Camp, where Ooch has its own cabin and all activities are integrated into the mainstream program.. There’s a nurse on site to meet childrens’ special needs, as many are on active cancer treatment. The day camp, designed for kids ages 4 to 7, is run by Camp Ooch staff and volunteers. Activities include swimming, arts and crafts, music, archery and even rock climbing.

The day camps, including Ooch Downtown, are a way of introducing children to the magic of camp, offering a glimpse of what’s to come when they head off to overnight camp in Muskoka, “helping them build a strong foundation” for the camp experience, says Jones.

Parents love it, too, because they know their children are in good hands and having a great time.

“At the end of the day, we ask whether their experience was a rose, thorn or bud — if it was beautiful, if they didn’t like it and what they’re looking forward to,” says Jones. “Often, the thorn is that day camp is over and the bud is that they can’t wait to come back.”

If he hadn’t decided to volunteer at Ooch, Jones would never have known the rewards of working with the children. “It’s an opportunity to share your talents — everyone has different ones and they should be shared to make people’s lives and experiences better and build relationships in the community,” he says. “It’s very rewarding and I feel like I’m doing something good.”

A big kid himself, Jones said working with children is a lot of fun. “I still get excited about Lego and going swimming.” Staff and campers at Robin Hood also “get it,” making the Ooch crew welcome.

“We’re all a family,” Jones says, smiling.

If you have been touched by the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, or phone 416-869-4309.

Goal: $650,000

To date: $435,382.

How to donate
: With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat — it gives them a break in life and memories to last a lifetime. Our target is $650,000.

By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6

By credit card
: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847

Online: For instant donations, use our secure form at: Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.

Muskoka Summer Company student wins entrepreneurship award
Friday, June 19, 2015

Bracebridge Examiner

BRACEBRIDGE — On Thursday, May 28, the fourth annual Daniel Keane Entrepreneurial Legacy Award was presented to Ben MacNicol, owner of Muskoka Maintenance, a property maintenance business serving property owners on Lake Rosseau. MacNicol started his business in 2014 under the Ontario Government’s Summer Company program and will operate again this summer with increased staff and more services available. The award was presented by Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith, who congratulated MacNicol on his hard work and commitment to his business.

The Daniel Keane Entrepreneurial Legacy Award was created in memory of a former Summer Company student, Daniel Keane. The award of $1,000, donated by Daniel’s family is presented to a Summer Company student in Muskoka who showed entrepreneurial spirit, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to community service.

Keane participated in the Summer Company program in 2007, when he operated a property maintenance business called Cottage Concierge, based out of his family cottage in Minett. Keane was an international business student at Conestoga College in Waterloo, Ontario at the time of his death.

This year’s winner, in addition to providing excellent service to his customers, found time to be active in “Jump for Ooch” a charity water-ski show and fundraiser for Camp Oochigeas.

The Keane family was not able to be at the presentation, but sent the following words of congratulation: “On behalf of our family I would like to extend best wishes to Mr. Ben MacNicol on being selected as the 2014 recipient of the Daniel Keane Entrepreneurial Award. Your hard work and commitment to the Muskoka community make you an excellent candidate for this award. Best wishes on your academic career and future business endeavours. Sincere congratulations, Lynn Keane”

Summer Company is an Ontario Government program that is open to students from the ages of 15 to 29. Please contact the Muskoka Small Business Centre at 705-646-9021 for more information.

Muskoka Small Business Centre congratulates Ben MacNicol on his accomplishments, and thanks Lynn Keane and her family for their generous support.

10-year-old plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Thursday, May 28, 2015

CHCH News                                                  

It’s the highest peak in Africa,  a mountain that takes almost a week to summit,  and a boy from Mississauga is planning to become the youngest Canadian to reach it.

Today, Sean Leathong talked with Gavin Monsour who,  at ten years old,  is preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  He has been working with trainer Jeff Ploen for a
year and a half.

Gavin is using his feat to help raise money for Camp Oochigeas,  a camp for kids who are battling cancer.

The Monsour family along with trainer Jeff Ploen will leave for tanzania on june 23rd.  all plan to summit the mountain, but at the end only one will be able to say “I’m the youngest Canadian to make it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.”

A remarkable accomplishment for a kid just finishing grade 4.

Ten-year-old Mississauga boy aims to become youngest Canadian to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Monday, May 25, 2015

Victor Ferreira | May 25, 2015 1:26 PM ET

Gavin Monsour, who aims to be the youngest Canadian to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, is seen at the summit of Mount Elbert.

Karen Monsour thought her eight-year-old son was just going through a fad when he told her he wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Two years later, she’s preparing to accompany him on the 5,895-metre climb.

Gavin Monsour is hoping to become the youngest Canadian and the fifth-youngest person in the world to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro when he and his parents begin their seven-day climb on June 26.

Gavin says he was inspired to climb Mount Kilimanjaro after reading “Mighty Mount Kilimanjaro,” a children’s novel by Elisabetta Dami. The book features Geronimo Stilton, a mouse that works as a journalist and goes on adventures.

“[Geronimo Stilton] has got a lot of different adventures he goes on,” Gavin says. “And then when I came across this one, it said to me that I want to do this one day. I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Gavin started bringing home books about different mountains and asking his parents questions about climbing. When he told them he wanted to raise money for a good cause while climbing, Monsour says she knew her son was serious. Gavin is hoping to raise $50,000 for Camp Oochigeas, a Muskoka, Ont., camp for children suffering from cancer.

“It hits home because he’s wanting to give a piece of himself to others that may not be able to accomplish everything he gets to in his day-to-day life,” Monsour says.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and has become a popular destination for adventure travellers and trekkers. Gavin has done his research and knows that 35,000 people try climbing it every year. Only 45 per cent succeed. While it is an easier ascent than peaks in the Himalayas, there are still a serious dangers involved. Foremost among them is altitude sickness, a condition that can afflict even the most fit climbers. Between 10 and 15 people die each year while attempting to make it to the summit.

Submitted by Kevin Monsour
Submitted by Kevin MonsourGavin Monsour stands with his father Kevin (in green), his mother Karen, and his trainer Jeff Ploen (blue) at the summit of Mount Elbert.

Jeff Ploen, Gavin’s personal trainer, has been preparing him mentally and physically for nearly two years and has read a fair bit of negative reaction to the boy’s planned climb. He has this to say to the doubters:

“I’m going to challenge them $20 to come keep up with Gavin for a two-hour workout and if they can, then they can say anything they want. If they can’t, which I guarantee they won’t be able to, then they have to keep their mouths shut.”

To prepare, Ploen trained Gavin to complete a 10k run in under an hour, complete the CN Tower climb in under 20 minutes and climb Mount Elbert, the second-highest summit in the contiguous United States.

Knowing he was able to conquer the difficult challenges put in front of him are what’s going to get him to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Ploen says, not the number of push-ups he does per day.

“I tried to pick things that were challenging to him and have him achieve them in order to give him a sense of success and a sense of accomplishment so that he in his mind believes he’ll summit the mountain,” Ploen says. “Physically, I have no apprehension with him getting to the top.”

Ploen has climbed nearly 30 summits himself and knows that if Gavin is to succeed, he has to be prepared for every situation he might encounter on the mountain.

“[I made] him go up to his knees in the Credit River to get his boots wet and soaking before we went hiking so that he would feel what it’s like if it rains on [Mount] Kilimanjaro,” Ploen says. “If your boots are wet and you’re cold, you’ve got to keep going.”

National Post

Mud Hero is Good, Clean Fun
Friday, May 22, 2015

By , Special to Postmedia Network                                                     

Suffering from FDS?

Go play in the mud!

Fun Deficiency Syndrome is rampant and will suck the life right out of you!

Boost your adrenaline and serotonin levels by getting outside and trying something new — just for the fun of it!

Get down and dirty at upcoming obstacle runs and adventure races.

Getting outside increases energy and promotes healing, says wellness expert Beverly Beuermann-King, of work “When we are having fun, we move outside of ourselves and our issues … We can lose our sense of fun as we age if we do not nourish it regularly.”

Last one in is a rotten egg!

“We’ve mastered the art of making mud and that’s what Mud Hero is all about!” says Adam Ruppel, head mud maker at the Mud Hero series, which is hosting its first urban event May 22 and 23 at Ontario Place. “It’s a way for our participants to go back to a time when getting muddy was allowed. There’s something totally freeing about jumping into a giant mud pit.”

Their next mud run is Aug. 29 in Albion Hills.

Participants are encouraged to raise money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and Camp Oochigeas. is a series of seven mud/obstacle events running across Canada, with more than 70,000 expected to participate.

Each course is 6 km and offers fun, muddy obstacles, including slides, a cargo rope climb and tunnel crawls.

Mud Hero

No need to be an elite athlete, and no extreme obstacles like electrocution or teargas, Ruppel says.

“There’s no punishment for not doing an obstacle — and some obstacles even have easier variations for beginners.”

A bit of preparation is recommended.

Tackle the runs at your own pace and skip obstacles you’re having trouble with.

Most participants are there for the fun — not the speed, Ruppel says, adding that this year there’s a Mud Hero Kids Series.

The goal is to finish and enjoy a great day in the outdoors — and a post-event Mud Bash with live music and BBQ, Ruppel says.

Up your summer fun with these obstacle runs:

Rugged Maniac: May 30, Kitchener,

Hell in the Harbour: June 13, Hamilton,

Met Con Blue: June 13, Blue Mountain,

Grapes of Wrath: June 27, Niagara,

Mudderella: July 11, Kitchener,

Spartan: July 18-19, Clarington,

Warrior Dash: July 18, Barrie,

Tough Mudder: Aug. 15-16, Mount St. Louis Moonstone,

Mud Hero: Albion Hills, Aug. 29,

West Ferris 22nd walk helps cancer patients beat the odds
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

North Bay Nipissing News 
By Laurel J. Campbell

School donationNORTH BAY – West Ferris Trojans were on the march – again.                        

The school held its 22nd annual Trojan Parade for Cancer on May 13 culminating in the presentation of $6,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society.                        

“And that’s not all of the money we’ve raised,” said teacher Nat Brunette. “We’re still counting the donations and we know for sure the total will be at least $7,000.”                        

This was the first Trojan event for Gil Pharand, of the Canadian Cancer Society’s North Bay office.                         

“This is very exciting,” he said. “I am just so proud of what these kids are doing for the society and for the fight against cancer. What you’re doing is important and it’s sending a message to the community that kids really care,” he told the students, encouraging them to continue their involvement in social causes as they advance their education and start their careers.                        

This year’s walk has one new component, students wearing what Brunnett described as “funky” t-shirts.                        

“The tie-dye shirts were the idea of our seven-member cancer committee,” she said, “and each of the colours used represents a cancer prevalent among the students and staff at West Ferris.”                        

Grade 9 student Kayla Leblond lays claim to at least two of those vibrant shades.                        

Lablond told the students assembled at the waterfront she had been diagnosed with a form of leukemia when she was six years old.                         

Orange is the colour of leukemia, gold the colour of childhood cancer and yellow the colour of sarcoma.                        

“Those are my colours,” said Leblond who underwent “aggressive treatment”  including blood transfusions, chemotherapy and “countless needles.                        

“I had no hair and the kids at school made fun of me, some even thought that what I had was contagious,” she said.                        

One of the things helping her through her fight with cancer was time spent at Camp Oochigeas – a year-round camp in Muskoka for child and teen cancer victims.                          

“There were a lot of bumps in the road of my treatment, but when I got to go to camp, that was amazing. It’s a place where kids are not judged. Cancer changes a kid’s life, but so does camp.”                        

Trojans have long been supporters of Camp Oohigeas, this year donating $1,000.                        

West Ferris Trojans started walking in 1992 when then student Stacey Whittaker’s grandfather died of cancer. To fund cancer research Whittaker organized a sponsored event at the school.                         

During the Trojan walk years, the survival rate for women with breast cancer has increased by 40 percent; survival rates of all children’s cancer rose to 90 percent; and overall cancer survival has risen from only one in four to 63 percent.                        

“This is a 22-year tradition,” said Pharand. “That’s an amazing story and something the school and the students should be proud of.”

10 Year-Old Canadian Boy Set To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Tuesday, May 19, 2015


A 10-year-old Mississauga, Ontario boy is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next month. On June 19, Gavin Monsour will begin his ascent of Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise money for Camp Oochigeas, an Ontario summer camp for children with cancer. Young Gavin aims to raise $50,000 for the renowned kids’ camp.

“It is going to feel amazing. I can’t believe I’m going to be the youngest Canadian and the fifth-youngest in the world,” Monsour told CTV’s News Channel. “I just want to try to let other kids with cancer be able to go to camp and be a part of something,” he added.

We salute you on your quest Gavin and wish you a safe, successful journey!

For more information on Gavin Monsour’s Mount Kilimanjaro climb and ways to donate, click here.

Barrie school's junior girls soccer team wins Hustle for a Cure
Thursday, May 14, 2015

The St. Peter's Panthers junior girls soccer team won its division at last Friday's Hustle for a Cure high-school tournament held in Midhurst following a 3-1 win over the St. Joan of Arc Knights.

In the senior girls division, the Bradford's Holy Trinity Tigers defeated the Eastview Wildcats, 5-1, in the final.

On Monday, local high-school boys teams participated in the Joga Charity Soccer Tournament.

In the semifinals on the boys side, Holy Trinity defeated Carothers, 3-1, while Collingwood's Jean Vanier Storm downed Wellington on penalty kicks.

In the final, Holy Trinity defeated Vanier, 3-1. 

The event, hosted by Holy Trinity, raised money for a variety of charities, including Ronald McDonald House, Camp Quality, Camp OOCH and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

ArtsView: Spring concert takes audience on a musical journey
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

One of the highlights of the musical year at Trinity College School took place the evening of Friday, May 8th, as our student-musicians presented the annual Spring Benefit Concert. It was a night of fantastic performances in support of a very worthy cause – Camp Oochigeas, a retreat for kids fighting cancer.

The show kicked off with the Wind Ensemble, directed by Ron Parker, playing highlights from the Disney film Brave, as arranged by Sean O’Loughlin. This was followed by the Claude Debussy classic, The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, which featured Alex Wong on alto sax. The Winds wrapped things up with the fun gospel standard, Just a Closer Walk with Thee by Don Gillis.

Next up was the Grade 9 Concert Band conducted by faculty intern Emily Johnson, which opened with their festival piece, David Schaffer’s energetic Fire Dance, and followed with Larry Neeck’s tribute to Irish folk music, Under an Irish Sky.

Our other faculty intern, Stephanie Fillman, led the Grade 10 Concert Band in its performance of Ancient Aires and Dances by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, and selections from the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie score composed by Hans Zimmer.

The Drumline took the stage next, shaking things up with The Biggar Experience, a piece composed by our drumline instructor Michael Beauclerc, who works closely with drumline conductor Jeff Biggar. Mr. Biggar then led the guitar ensemble through three numbers: the Everly Brothers’ hit, All I Have to Do Is Dream, David Conger’s Stoneman’s Pact, and the rock classic Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

The Trinity Strings, under the direction of Junior School music teacher Neil Hunter, played two beautiful pieces: Reve by Joe Hisaishi, and Quintet in C Major, written by Grade 12 student Hanson Liu in memory of Bruce Grandfield, a TCS English teacher who passed away in 2013.

Finally, Mr. Biggar returned to the stage to lead the Trinity Singers in the final set of the night, including the upbeat Best Day Of My Life by American Authors, Elton John’s disco tune Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and the haunting I Found by British band Amber Run.

Overall, it was a wonderful evening of music and a great gathering in support of the arts at TCS and the important work being done by our friends at Camp Oochigeas. Thank you to our student-musicians, to our conductors and to our behind-the-scenes crew: Cory McKercher (lighting) and Christian McFadden (sound).

View the Spring Benefit Concert ’15 gallery for more photos.

Don’t forget, our annual Jazz Night will take place the evening of Friday, May 22nd starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Dick and Jane LeVan Theatre. Join us!

York family runs in memory of Tamara Bernstein
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Team Tamara


York Guardian By DOMINIK KUREK

For York’s Bernstein family and their cousins and friends, the Sporting Life 10k is much more than a race.                          

It is a place where they (calling themselves Team Tamara), along with 27,000 other participants, helped support a cause that had supported them when they needed it most.                           

This year’s event, which was held Sunday, May 10, raised more than $2 million for Camp Oochigeas – Camp Ooch – a place where children battling cancer can go and be kids in the great outdoors, forgetting their health troubles.                          

In the summer of 2012, Tamara Bernstein, who was battling leukemia and had been in and out of hospital, spent two weeks at the camp where a medical team ensures each child gets the treatment he or she needs. Medicine, and procedures such as chemo and blood transfusions are available at the camp and after children receive their treatment, they can go back out and play with other kids.                          

“Tamara had a chance to go to Camp Ooch, when she was around nine,” said Tamara’s cousin Robyn Polan. “She had such a remarkable time there so after she passed away, just everyone in my family decided it was going to be our thing to raise funds so other kids could go to camp.”                          

This year, Team Tamara raised $7,500 for Camp Ooch at the 10k event. It was the third year the family participated.                          

Polan said Tamara was loved and is missed greatly.                          

“We miss her energy, she always had a smile on her face and always dancing and making the most of life,” she said.                          

Tamara was diagnosed at around age eight in 2010. She battled leukemia for two-and-a-half years. She left behind her parents Warren and Lisa Bernstein and sister Rayna. Tamara’s parents had another child recently named Ella.                          

Polan said her family is close with the Bernsteins and the two families are in constant contact.                          

Polan even volunteered at Camp Ooch a year ago in Tamara’s honour.                          

“The reason I wanted to do that is because I know it had such an impact on her life and her time dealing with cancer,” she said.                          

“It’s such a remarkable experience for (the children). It really takes away any barriers that they feel that they have. There’s such an even playing field. It’s almost like you forget that the kids have cancer because it’s not really discussed and talked about, and they’re able to just enjoy life and forget about it for a while, which is pretty amazing.”                          

For more information, visit

Sporting Life 10K race recap
Monday, May 11, 2015

Sporting Life 10KToronto’s Yonge Street was packed this morning with 25,800 runners out for this year’s Sporting Life 10K. 

Social Chatter

The top finishers in the men’s race were quite spaced out today. Berhanu Degefa placed first running a speedy 29:46. He had quite the lead. In second was John Mason (31:04) with Clay Patterson finishing third in a time of 31:54.

The women’s race was a fast one today. Tamara Jewett was first to cross the line running 33:32. Lioudmila Kortchaguina placed after her running a 33:46. In third place was Natasha Herron who finished in 34:34. Full results are here.

The temperatures today were quite summer-like for this time of year. Runners ran in 20C sunny weather at 8:00 a.m. this morning. That might have been hotter racing weather than expected but many would have set PBs despite the heat. The course is famous for producing fast times since it’s all downhill on Yonge Street.

This year, the race raised two million for their charity– Camp Oochigeas. That’s a camp that supports children who have suffered from childhood cancer by giving them a chance to enjoy themselves at summer camp.

10k run sends $2 million to 'Camp Ooch' for kids with cancer
Sunday, May 10, 2015

By: Louise Brown  GTA,  Published on Sun May 10 2015

A large group of family and friends ran in the Sporting life 10K to honour 12-year-old Edyn Drever. Here, they chant a song in her honour.

As a veteran summer camper, 12-year-old Edyn Drever loved the swims — even the brisk sunrise Polar Bear dips — at Camp Oochigeas, where she spent two weeks last July. She loved climbing the “high ropes” at the Muskoka camp for children with cancer, and made time to cheer up other kids who were homesick.

When her parents picked her up, she was “over the moon, it was so much fun,” said her dad, Michael Drever. She wanted to come back this year as a counselor, but the tumour that had qualified her for this unusual camp stormed back, and she passed away in September.

This Sunday, a team of 42 relatives and family friends wearing Edyn’s favourite colour — green — did the Sporting Life 10-kilometre run in her honour and raised a staggering $20,000 for the camp she loved.

“Camp Oochigeas does such an astounding job making kids with cancer feel like kids; Edie loved the fact that at this camp, everyone was in the same boat, so she wouldn’t feel like she was standing out as ‘that kid who is sick,’ ” her father said after finishing the walk. Team Edyn sang some of Edyn’s favourite songs as they marched down Yonge St. with 30,000 other runners Sunday morning — Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ lots of Michael Jackson and Beatles songs. “She loved the Beatles,” Drever recalled.

Team Edyn was one of eight groups that walked Sunday with children who have been at “Camp Ooch” or in honour of past campers. The run raised a record $2 million for the camp, which welcomes some 400 children every year.

It is the only camp in Canada equipped to deliver intravenous chemotherapy or blood transfusions on site, with an oncologist and specialized nurses, medical supports that cost about $250 per day or $3,500 for two weeks, although the camp is free to campers.

“Kids with cancer are always being told what they can’t do, but we focus on what kids can do — ‘Yes, you can go swimming. You can go water skiing,’” said executive director Alex Robertson as he thanked the thousands of participants who relaxed in a park by Lake Ontario after the run.

Other families run because their children haven’t had cancer, like Toronto mother Melanie Deeks-Duras, whose extended family — three siblings, their spouses and eight children — spends each Mother’s Day doing the Sporting Life Run.

“It’s a great reason to gather as a family, but there’s not a single step I take that I don’t think of how hard it must be for the family of kids who aren’t healthy.”

Cheryl Cash and her daughter, Rebecca, have done the run as a Mother’s Day event for three or four years, partly to raise money for a camp that Cheryl says “is very expensive, with all those doctors and IVs; it’s almost like a hospital, but it’s a great equalizer for kids to have fun with kids going through the same thing.”

Grade 9 student Michael Palermo beat his own previous running time by about five minutes when he ran with 12-year-old brother Christopher, who was running for the first time.

Alfred Siu decided to take up long-distance running in 2014 after being laid off, and since then has done five 10k runs and a half-marathon.

“It’s a great way to relieve stress and build mental toughness,” said Siu, who has since landed a new job.

For Edyn’s mother, Kristyn Drever, the run is bittersweet.

“Everything we do to build Edyn’s legacy is overwhelming — it’s like an emotional roller-coaster, because we’re so glad to honour the organization that runs this camp, but then you remember, it’s all about why we’re here.”

Ambassadors gear up to run for kids with cancer
Friday, May 08, 2015

By: Staff Reporter 

The Sporting Life 10K race has sold-out again, with 27,000 racing money for Camp Oochigeas.    

The annual Sporting Life 10K Run will draw 27,000 participants this Sunday, out to raise funds for Camp Oochigeas, where kids with cancer go for summer fun.

While most people are still getting out of bed on Sunday morning, 27,000 people will be racing down Yonge St. to make life a little brighter for kids with cancer.

The Sporting Life 10k is sold-out once again, with proceeds going to Camp Oochigeas, known affectionately as Camp Ooch. The registered charity offers programs to children with cancer and their families at five locations, including at SickKids Hospital and an overnight camp in Muskoka. The race raised $2.2 million last year, helping cover the cost of camp, which is estimated to be about $250 per day for the two-week residential program.

The Star asked 10 of the run’s official ambassadors what their motivation to run is and how they’re preparing.

Jennifer Valentyne, Live Eye Host, Breakfast Television

Why are you running the race?

I’m hosting the race because I’ve been involved with Camp Ooch for 20 years. I was a camp counsellor from 1995 to 1997 — best experience of my life. My campers were 15 years old then and we’re still close. You don’t think about cancer (at camp) because there’s no time because you’re having too much fun.

How are you training for the race?

I live in the Beach and I go for jogs on the boardwalk. You don’t have to run this race — it’s just about being together. Some people run, some people walk, some people run and walk.

Cynthia Mulligan, Reporter, CityNews

Why are you running the race?

When I was going through breast cancer treatments at Princess Margaret I would see children come for radiation. They were so little. Some were smiling, most were bald, sometimes you could hear them crying. It broke my heart. I believe in laughter and sunshine, that’s why I’m running, so a child can go to Camp Oochigeas and be a kid.

How are you training for the race?

I’m a regular runner but I normally only do five or six kilometres. I have been gradually adding to that — my goal is 10K in one hour. I’m really focusing on that and I’m also making sure I’m eating really well.

Lisa LaFlamme, Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor, CTV National News

Why are you running the race?

I run this race because I believe in Camp Ooch. Every child should experience, on some level, the simplicity, freedom and glory of summer camp. That takes money and this is a great way to raise it.

How are you training for the race?

Now we get to the hard part. I actually don’t run anymore except when I’m running late for a deadline — but, for the last four months, I have grabbed onto an amazing strength training exercise called Barre class. I do it one hour a day and it has given me a new endurance to tackle this challenge.

Rosey Edeh, Olympian and Anchor, Global TV Toronto News at Noon

Why are you running the race?

I met kids from Camp Oochigeas years ago and I was blown away by their zest for life. They lit up when describing the unforgettable experience they enjoyed at Camp Ooch. I want to help make sure the camp is around for many, many years to come.

How are you training for the race?

I’m a sprinter, not a distance runner, so I’ve kept to my normal training and I’m hoping for the best! I run 20 minutes pretty fast a couple times a week, cross-train on the bike 30 to 40 minutes and lift light weights the other days.

Kathy Buckworth, Parenting Author

Why are you running the race?

I have four children, and they have always enjoyed summer camp. I’m hoping that I can help kids who are dealing with cancer (get) the opportunity to also have a camp experience. Camp Ooch is an amazing organization, and I’m proud to be on the ambassador team.

How are you training for the race?

For the past two years, I have been running five to seven kilometres five times a week. I also do weight classes twice a week. The furthest I have run is 14 kilometres, indoors, and in 2015 I have a goal to add a kilometre to that distance each month. The Sporting Life 10K is my first 10K run.

Rick Campanelli, Host, ET Canada

Why are you running the race?

I am running for everyone who has been affected by cancer, especially the children. They are kids — it’s not fair that they have to live with this!

My heart just breaks for them and hopefully with all the awareness and fundraising we will find a cure one day!

How are you training for the race?

I started late with my training — running every morning — just trying to condition myself the best that I can. I’m not going to set any records, but I want to keep a good pace.

Bob Weeks, Golf Analyst, SCOREGolf/TSN

Why are you running the race?

I had a cousin who had cancer and spent many years at SickKids. She went to Camp Ooch and it was a bright spot in an otherwise tough world. She passed away too young, so I’m running in her memory and so other kids can enjoy the camp.

How are you training for the race?

I’m a dedicated runner already, logging about 60 kilometres a week, so this just fits into my regular routine. I’m hoping for a (personal best)!

Andrea Bain, Lifestyle Correspondent, CBC’s Steven and Chris Show

Why are you running the race?

Well, it was a no-brainer really. Camp Ooch is a wonderful cause and many years ago my cousin’s son was diagnosed with cancer. It was devastating for our family, but the support we received was incredible. So I just wanted to give back to families who are going through it right now.

How are you training for the race?

I’ve never run 2K, much less a 10K, so I joined the New Balance running group at Sporting Life and it has become the most fun thing I’ve ever done. My team pushes me every week to work harder and I can honestly say I could never have done this race without them.

Melanie Ng, Anchor/Reporter, Breakfast Television

Why are you running the race?

Quite simply, Camp Oochigeas is incredible. Doctors gave Hugh, an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with a brain tumour, a 30 per cent chance of survival. I had the honour of spending a day with Hugh, who not only beat the odds, but got to laugh and be a kid at Camp Ooch while going through treatment. Such inspiration!

How are you training for the race?

I’m definitely not a runner, but I wanted to dedicate myself to this very important cause. I’ve been running a few times a week for the past few weeks. We also have a team from Citytv taking part and it’s been great motivating one another.

Gurdeep Ahluwalia, Anchor and Reporter, TSN

Why are you running the race?

I’m fortunate to be associated with such a worthwhile organization. After my first visit to Camp Ooch’s downtown facilities three years ago, I knew this was a cause I wanted to get behind. Running the race and bringing some awareness to it through television and social media were basically no-brainers.

How are you training for this race?

I’m training for this race by getting to the gym four days a week. A couple of days are spent on functional conditioning, and the other two days focusing on interval training.


Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Sporting Life 10K helps Camp Ooch, a ‘lifeline’ for parents and kids
Thursday, May 07, 2015

Stephanie Reid will be running this Sunday to raise money for kids like her daughter Keaton, who has leukemia.

By: Staff Reporter

Keaton Reid, front, with sister Mika and parents Don and Stephanie. Stephanie Reid and her team for the Sporting Life 10K race have raised almost $6,000.Vince Talotta / Toronto Star                

Keaton Reid, front, with sister Mika and parents Don and Stephanie. Stephanie Reid and her team for the Sporting Life 10K race have raised almost $6,000.

Stephanie Reid couldn’t believe it when her 4-year-old came home from March break day camp and declared it was the “best day of her life.”

Like most kids, Keaton loved making pottery, playing in the park and being spellbound by a magician but unlike most kids, Keaton had rarely been separated from her mother for more than a few hours. That’s because Keaton has been in and out of hospitals since shortly after her second birthday, when she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Reid felt comfortable sending her daughter to Camp Oochigeas because it was designed to support kids with cancer, but wasn’t sure how Keaton would react after her older sister had to stay home from camp with a bug. That’s why she was delighted to see the joy her daughter experienced from doing simple things that all kids should get to do.

She calls Camp Ooch a “lifeline” for both parents and kids. To celebrate and pay it forward, Reid has assembled a team — Kisses for Keaton — that will be running and walking the Sporting Life 10K race this Sunday to raise funds for the camp. Her team has raised just shy of $6,000.

It will be a particularly celebratory day since Keaton’s last chemotherapy treatment is Saturday, making Sunday — Mother’s Day — her first official day as a cancer-free kid.

“It’s the best gift that I could ever get,” Reid said.

Keaton was first diagnosed at SickKids in February 2013, after a string of fevers and other minor illnesses concerned her mother.

“All I remember (the doctors) saying is she has leukemia,” Reid said.

She describes the period that follows are the most difficult period of her life.

“I had zero control over whether she was going to live or die,” Reid said, her voice cracking.

The first six months were especially tough, with a recurring fever that kept Keaton in-hospital two to seven days each month. Despite the overwhelming support from family and friends, it got lonely with either Keaton being too sick to have visitors, or friends and family contracting illnesses making them too much of a risk to have around Keaton.

Having Camp Ooch at SickKids helped keep Reid in touch with other people and more importantly, gave a sense of normalcy to Keaton as she was distracted with by volunteers who would stop in to chat, make crafts or hang out with her in the playroom.

“I don’t know what I would have done if there wasn’t something like that,” said Reid.

Breakfast Television showcases their support of #SL10K and Camp Oochigeas
Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Breakfast Television showcases their support of #SL10K and Camp Oochigeas


City TV's Melanie Ng interviews Camp Ooch Camper Family; The Maw's
Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Janetville girl racing to help kids with childhood cancer
Friday, April 24, 2015

Ella Marsh, 8, is lacing up alongside her cancer-fighting cousin to support Camp Ooch                

Kawartha Lakes This Week                
By Jamie Steel                                     

 JANETVILLE - Ella Marsh wants to help put a smile on the faces of kids battling cancer.  To do that, the eight-year-old is running a 10 km race.                        

On May 10, the young lady from Janetville is lacing up for the Sporting Life 10K to raise money for Camp Ooch, a camp for kids battling cancer. She’s running in support of her cousin Jack Lynch, 9, who was diagnosed three and a half years ago with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.                        

“But he’s cancer free today!” Ella exclaims, obviously excited for her cousin. Jack celebrated being cancer-free this past January.                        

“I really want to do the run because there are other kids suffering. They’re happy at this camp where they can have friends and have fun.”                        

Last year, in support of Jack, the family entered a team into the 10 km run and while Jack was able to participate, Ella was too young. Instead, she and the other family members, including brothers Jacob and Cameron, who didn’t meet the age requirements set up a “free high five” section, just beyond the 8km mark in the race.  They gave high fives to all the runners passing by, giving them the boost of encouragement to finish the race.                         

When Ella saw Jack was having a little trouble with the final two kilometres last year, she borrowed her uncle’s shirt (he had finished the race early) and ran along side her cancer-fighting cousin. This year, Ella gets to run the whole race.                        

“I’m going to do it this year and I can’t wait,” she says.                         

She’s part of “Jack’s Pack”, a team that raised between $24,000 and $26,000 last year. It costs $3,500 to send one child to camp for a full week because of the special programming, so the more money raised, the better.                        

“My goal is $2,000,” says Ella. “I would like to put a smile on other kids’ faces and make them happy to go to camp where they can get their treatment there instead of a hospital.”                        

Ella says when Jack participated in Camp Ooch, which he’ll be doing again this year, he had a lot of fun.                        

“He would be so happy after,” she says.                         

Camp Ooch operates 365 days a year at a sleepover camp in Muskoka, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, three other regional centres across Southern Ontario and at Ooch Downtown, a recreational facility in Toronto. It’s for kids affected by childhood cancer, their siblings and their families.  Some campers are newly diagnosed and on active treatment, while some have been in remission for years.                         

The camp doesn’t receive any government funding and relies on donations and fundraisers like the Sporting Life 10K. According to Camp Ooch, 82 cents from every dollar raised goes directly to program expenses.                         

“These programs in turn provide kids with cancer and kids affected by cancer unique opportunities for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences,” the website reads.                        

The Sporting Life 10K starts at 8 a.m. on Mothers’ Day and runs along Yonge Street in Toronto.                         

For more information about Camp Ooch or the run visit From there, anyone interested in helping Ella reach her goal can search for her by name under the “Search for a Fundraiser” button.

Mud Hero Expands - Press Release
Thursday, April 02, 2015

Kids to Join More Than 70,000 Participants at 2015 Events


Toronto, Ontario
(April 2, 2015) -- Canada’s premier mud/obstacle event series is delighted to announce the launch of Mud Hero Kids, its new event series for the 4-13 year—old set. For the first time ever kids will have the opportunity to enjoy the muddy good time offered at Mud Hero events across the country – tackling a mini version of Mud Hero’s popular mud/obstacle event. The approximately 500-metre course (down from Mud Hero’s 6 kilometre adult version) features 6 kid-sized obstacles including teeter-totters, balance beams, a cargo climb and of course,
our signature mud pit! Participants will do between 1 and 4 laps of the course based on their age, and there will be additional challenges for older kids. Each participant will receive an event t-shirt and a finisher’s medal.

“The addition of Mud Hero Kids is a natural extension for our events,” says Mud Hero co-founder Adam Ruppel. “Kids and mud are kind of a no-brainer and this is something our
Mud Hero parents have been asking about for some time.”

Mud Hero Kids will take place at all of Mud Hero’s events across Canada this summer, with the
exception of the Mud Hero Toronto Urban race. Registration is $15 online in
advance, and $25 on-site on event day (space permitting).

Mud Hero is the largest Canadian-owned mud/obstacle racing series in Canada. In 2015 Mud Hero expects to attract more than 70,000 participants to its much anticipated events in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Winnipeg and Red Deer. The award-winning series brings together the best of obstacle racing with a big dose of mud – not to mention an event that is accessible not just to elite athletes, but to mere mortals who are looking for a fun weekend challenge.

For more information about Mud Hero Kids visit 

For more information please contact:

Marissa Schroder


Get Out There Communications, Inc.

Talk About Talent to showcase Milton’s youth
Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Milton Canadian Champion                                

Musicians, dancers and singers will come together to showcase their talents in Milton on Friday, Apr. 17.                        

Milton Youth Theatre Productions will present Talk About Talent at the Milton Centre for the Arts’ MinMaxx Hall at 8 p.m.                        

Many Milton youth will gather to entertain, with proceeds from the cabaret-style show benefitting Milton District Hospital and Camp Oochigeas, a summer camp for children with cancer.                         

Organizers say Talk About Talent will be entertaining for the entire family.                        

Tickets cost $12.50 and are available at or by calling (905) 878-6000.                        

Artists who would like to be part of this event, or anyone who wants to donate to a silent auction, is asked to call (905) 875-7674.

Cobourg paddler Carolyn Oster finds strength, support on breast cancer survivor team
Friday, March 27, 2015

Northumberland News                
By Karen Longwell                                           

COBOURG -- The first time Survivor Thrivers Dragon Boat team member Carolyn Oster was diagnosed with cancer, she was nursing her child.                          

The Cobourg resident was 40 years old, a high school teacher and mother with two young children in 2003 and wasn’t expecting the diagnosis. Ms. Oster, now 52, said she was breastfeeding when she discovered a lump and credits her daughter for saving her at that time.                          

“I call her my angel because I wouldn’t have found it without her,” Ms. Oster said.                          

The diagnosis of breast cancer came soon afterward. Her baby was one year old and she also had a four-year-old child when she started treatments.                          

“It was a busy time,” she said.                           

The difficult part was finding time for rest in between treatments, tests and appointments, she added. She had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.                           

When she was recovering she sought out support. Breast cancer wasn’t something a lot people her age were going through, she said. When she discovered the Survivors, she found a very social group of supportive breast cancer survivors.                           

“I found it really exciting and nice to have something for myself,” she said.                          

The sport puts everyone on a equal footing working together.                          

“Everyone has to be in total unison.”                          

Although she never considered herself athletic and hadn’t been into team sports, Ms. Oster very quickly fell in love with the sport.                          

“It made me feel more fit ... when you are sick, people think of you as the sick person. Dragon boating made me feel healthy again,” she said. “You are not focusing on the sickness. You are focusing on something positive and healthy.”                          

Dragon Boating for breast cancer survivors started after a 1998 study from Vancouver researcher Dr. Don McKenzie dispelled a common medical belief at the time. His sports medicine research determined upper body exercise was not detrimental to the prognosis of breast cancer survivors. In fact, he found, the teaming building and exercise was beneficial for physical and emotional recovery.                          

Having heard about Dr. McKenzie’s study, in fall of 1998, Dorothy Hampson, a retired Cobourg high school teacher, put an advertisement in the paper looking for breast cancer survivors to learn to paddle a dragon boat. The Survivor Thrivers formed in 1999 in Cobourg.                           

Currently the team has about 20 paddlers but always needs more. Over the years it has gained and lost paddlers. Some paddlers have reoccurrences of their cancer.                          

Many cancer survivors know, once you have the disease once, you are at risk of getting it again, said Ms. Oster.                          

“It is not like lightning striking,” she said.                          

During a routine mammogram in September 2014, Ms. Oster was once again diagnosed with breast cancer but a different type this time.                           

Ms. Oster took time off from her teaching position at Cobourg Collegiate Institute for treatments. This time she was able to get most of her treatments close to home. She was able to get chemotherapy in Cobourg and she returned to her surgeon in Peterborough. Radiation treatments are in Oshawa and will be finished in mid-May, she said.                           

Her prognosis is looking good and she hopes to return to paddling this season. She plans to take it easy and not compete as much.                           

Dragon boating has taken Ms. Oster into competitions in places such as Nova Scotia and Vermont where she enjoys meeting people from around the world. There are now breast cancer survivor dragon boat teams all over the world. Ms. Oster is proud of a collection of pins she has exchanged with paddlers from different countries she meets at competitions. She keeps the pins on her now very heavy hat.                          

The Survivor Thrivers meet year-round with dry land workouts through the off-season. Usually they are back on the water by May. In addition to paddling, the team also does fundraising for area hospitals where members have gotten treatments, and Camp Oochigeas, a summer camp for children affected by cancer.                          

Ms. Oster encourages breast cancer survivors to consider joining the team.                          

“There is life after breast cancer. You can still be out there doing things,” she said.                          


Volkswagen Canada teams up with Camp Oochigeas
Friday, March 20, 2015


Volkswagen Canada teams up with Camp Oochigeas

Camp for Kids with Cancer gets a new Fleet

AJAX, ON – March 19, 2015

Camp Oochigeas has a new fleet to help make the road ahead a bit more enjoyable for their campers and volunteers alike.

Today at Volkswagen Canada headquarters in Ajax, representatives from Camp Ooch (as it is affectionately known) were on hand to receive the keys to six brand new Volkswagen Passat sedans, which will now make up the "Camp Ooch Fleet". In addition, a cheque was presented to the camp to help out with their day-to-day expenses.

"Camp Ooch has become Volkswagen Canada’s Charity of Choice," stated Maria Stenström, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group Canada. "We are very proud to support such a fantastic organization and look forward to working closely with them."

Camp Ooch is in its 32nd year of operation. In all those years, their mission has remained the same: to give kids with and affected by childhood cancer the chance to be kids first and cancer patients second.

On hand to receive the keys was Alex Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of Camp Ooch. "Volkswagen rocks big-time," stated Alex. "We are thrilled and delighted to have Volkswagen Canada partner with Camp Ooch. On behalf of the campers and families we serve, thank you."

The camp keeps a busy schedule, providing programs at hospitals, urban and country camps, and transportation has always been a challenge. That’s where Volkswagen Canada has stepped in.

Having worked casually with the camp for the past three summers, the company has ramped-up their involvement thanks to the overwhelming support of their employees.

Volunteers from Volkswagen Canada will also be lending a hand to help prepare Camp Ooch’s summer facility, as well as forming a team to take part in the Camp’s premier annual fundraiser, the Sporting Life 10k #SL10K run in Toronto.

About Volkswagen Canada:

Founded in 1952, Volkswagen Canada is headquartered in Ajax, Ontario. It is the largest volume European automotive nameplate in Canada, and sells the Golf, Golf Sportwagon, Golf GTI, Golf R, Beetle, Jetta, Eos, Passat, CC, Tiguan, and Touareg through 136 independent Canadian Dealers. It is the leader in affordable TDI Clean Diesel vehicle sales in Canada, and forms part of Volkswagen Group Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and is Europe’s largest automaker.

Visit Volkswagen Canada online at

Volkswagen Canada
Spokesperson: Thomas Tetzlaff

Phone: 905-428-5858


About Camp Oochigeas:

Founded in 1983, Camp Oochigeas (Ooch) has been providing magical camp experiences for children with and affected by childhood cancer for 30 years. Much more than a summer camp, Ooch is the only residential camp in Ontario to offer on-site chemotherapy IV treatment and blood transfusions. Camp Ooch also provides year-round programs for children affected by cancer in Muskoka, at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), three other regional cancer centres, and Ooch Downtown in the heart of Toronto. Through these programs, Camp Oochigeas provides fun and meaningful experiences to approximately 1000 children with and affected by childhood cancer each year, at no cost to their families. This is all made possible by the generous support of donors and volunteers.

Discover the Magic of Ooch

Visit for more information or join the online community on Facebook at and Twitter @CampOoch.

Event at Rotary Place will benefit children's cancer foundation
Friday, February 27, 2015

By Patrick Bales
The Orillia Packet & Times                                    

Throughout most of Canada, it would be difficult to have an outdoor bike relay in the winter. That's where the Inside Ride comes in.

The Inside Ride is debuting in Orillia March 9 at Rotary Place. Jointly organized by the Lakehead University Student Union and Georgian College Student Activity Council, the event is in support of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Federation.

The Inside Ride is a stationary cycling challenge. Racing bikes are mounted and held stationary on trainers, with mileage and speed gauged with odometers.

Teams of four to six people form and sign up for the event. On the day, each cyclist rides for 10 minutes at a time. The atmosphere is intense, with upbeat music, cheering and lots of colourful costumes.

Riley Braunstein, a first-year student at Lakehead Orillia, is one of the organizers of the local event. He's no stranger to the Inside Ride, having worked as a program manager for the fundraiser in the year between graduating high school and university. He is passionate about the ride after travelling the country and seeing the money it can raise to help children with cancer.

"One hundred per cent of the funds that we raise go straight to the cause," Brauntstein said. "We actually like to say that we fund 360 degrees of the disease. We don't just funnel all of our money into the research. We're actually one of the largest sponsors of Camp Trillium, Camp Oochigeas, Camp Quality -- summer camps for children who are sick."

Braunstein's introduction to the Inside Ride was when he organized the fundraiser at high school in Mississauga. That year, his school raised $25,000 for Coast to Coast, helping to land him the job with Inside Ride the following year.

While raising that much money in Orillia would be welcome, organizers haven't an amount they would like to raise.

"Right now, for a first-year event, I try not to put a goal on it," Braunstein said. "We want to see how the community responds. Next year, we would start upping (the goal) based on what we do."

He's joined by Christina Petsinis, a Lakehead student who also has a history with the Inside Ride, having taken part in four of them as a student at Barrie's Innisdale Secondary School.

"We ran the Inside Ride at Innisdale for a fellow Innisdale Invader, Adam Fedosoff, to keep his memory alive," she recalled. "Several of my peers knew Adam quite well and their passion to help support children and families with cancer was inspiring. I was thrilled to take part in this amazing community-based event."

It was at the 2013 Inside Ride the two organizers in Orillia met. In his role as program manager, Braunstein provided support for Petsinis and her fellow students. The two didn't make the connection their paths had crossed before until recently, Petsinis said.

Braunstein and Petsinis are excited to bring the event to Orillia.

"The amount of energy that each cyclist brings to each event is exciting," Petsinis said. "When Riley mentioned that he wanted to organize and facilitate an Inside Ride here at Lakehead, I was right on board."

Registration for the Inside Ride begins at 11:30 a.m. March 9 at Rotary Place. Orientation for the bikes will begin at 12:15 p.m. and actual cycling starts at 12:40 p.m., wrapping up at 2 p.m.

Mud Hero Urban Obstacle Race Breathes New Life into Ontario Place. 10,000 Participants Expected Over Two Day Event
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Toronto, Ontario (February 17, 2015) - Canada's premier mud/obstacle event series is going decidedly urban this spring with a race at Toronto's storied Ontario Place. On May 22 and 23 thousands will have the opportunity to participate in Canada's only true urban obstacle event - Mud Hero Urban - right here in the heart of the city! Over six kilometers participants will climb, crawl, jump, slip and slide their way to the muddy finish en-route to an epic post-event bash (and a check off their "bucket list").

"Mud Hero Urban is the first obstacle event of its kind in Canada," says Mud Hero founder and CEO Adam Ruppel. "It’s totally unheard of to host an obstacle event like this within a downtown core given the logistics of building the course and accommodating thousands of participants. Ontario Place provides a very unique opportunity for us to create an event that will provide easy access to Torontonians and a vibrant destination race for out-of-towners."

The event will take place over two days, offering wave starts throughout the day and into the evening on Friday to attract the after-work crowd. On Saturday the first wave takes off at 9:30 a.m. and the final (muddiest) wave is at 4:30 p.m. More than 16 obstacles will challenge participants along the way. For two consecutive days the races will be followed by a massive bash featuring DJs, bands, BBQ and beverages. More than 10,000 are expected to participate over the course of the weekend.

Unlike some events, Mud Hero is not punishing – offering participants the option to tackle easy or difficult variations of some obstacles. "It really is a race for everyone," says Ruppel. "Our participants are not elite athletes. They are people who want to challenge themselves a bit, get muddy and have a great time with their friends. It’s all about the accomplishment."

Over the last few years the popularity of obstacle events has exploded. In 2014 more than 250,000 Canadians participated in obstacle races across the country. These events vary in length and feature a range of obstacles from mud pits to climbing walls. Unlike traditional running events, participation in obstacle races transcends fitness, appealing to both seasoned athletes and weekend warriors alike. In 2014 Mud Hero is expecting more than 70,000 to its races across Canada.

For more information please contact:
Get Out There Communications, Inc.

Marissa Schroder





Nine-year-old aims for the top of Mount Kilimanjaro
Monday, February 23, 2015

Media link

MISSISSAUGA  — "How many people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro each year?" asks personal trainer Jeff Ploen.                         

His client, Gavin Monsour, makes a couple of guesses before landing on 35,000.                         

"What's the completion rate?" asks Ploen.                         

Monsour replies with 45 per cent.                         

"How many people die in their attempt?" asks Ploen.                         

Monsour knows the average is between 10 and 15 each year.                        

That's pretty advanced knowledge for anyone, let alone a nine-year-old.                         

The St. Bernard of Clairvaux student has done his homework and is determined to make it to the top of Mount Kilimajaro – the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet – this summer in the hopes of becoming the youngest Canadian ever to make the ascent.                        

He told his classmates about that endeavour and recalled their reaction yesterday (Wed. Feb. 11) before he and Ploen began a training hike through Erindale Park.                        

"They said wow," said Monsour, who will be accompanied by his father, Kevin, mother, Karen, Ploen and possibly others when they begin the climb in Tanzania on June 19.                         

"I told them I'd set a record by becoming the youngest Canadian and the fifth youngest in the world to climb it," said Gavin. "One person said I was crazy."                        

The record is unofficial, as the Guinness Book of World Records doesn't track such a standard, but Monsour settled on the age to beat while reading articles about youngsters who have completed the climb and conducted research on, a popular resource for mountain climbing enthusiasts.                        

Monsour has been interested in mountains for a number of years, but thought about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro after reading a book from the Geronimo Stilton series in which the main character does the same.                        

"Our reaction was 'That's great, let's do that when you're 19.'" said Kevin Monsour.                         

"He kind of agreed to that for maybe a week or two and then did a little bit of research. The youngest person he found (to climb the mountain) through his initial research was just over 10 years old (10 years and 41 days)."                        

Monsour originally wanted to venture up the mountain next month for his 10th birthday, but the family found that the best time of year to do it was in June.                        

The Monsours met Ploen when he was running the Summit Club out of Life Time Athletic in Erin Mills. They asked if he'd like to accompany them in their ascent and he said he'd be more than happy to.                        

The Monsours have some mountain climbing experience, having made it to the top of Mount Elbert in Colorado last summer. At 14,440 feet, it's the highest point in the rocky mountains and second-highest peak in the contiguous U.S.                     

Shortly after he announced his goal of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Monsour said he wanted to raise money for a worthwhile charity. He came across Camp Oochigeas, a Muskoka-based camp for children with cancer. He's hoping to raise $50,000.                        

For more information or to donate to Monsour's attempt, visit                        

Monsour hikes regularly with Ploen and also does cardio work and body weight exercises such as push ups to prepare for the climb.                        

He also stays active by playing rep hockey in Meadowvale and taking taekwondo classes. His father registered the family for its third climb up the CN Tower later this year.                        

Ploen believes the youngster is already able to meet the physical demands of the upcoming trek, so they are now turning their focus to preparing for the mental side of the equation and braving the elements.                        

"For each training session, I try to pick something that he perceives he can't do, something that's challenging mentally," he said. "It's more about overcoming the mental obstacles and having him realize that nothing is impossible."                        

While climbing Mount Elbert, Monsour experienced some headaches, but got more comfortable with the climb as he got further to the top.                        

He knows that aches and pains throughout the body are common at higher altitudes.                        

"What do we do when that happens?" Ploen asks.                         

Monsour responds with "Suck it up."

Norwood Curl For Kids tops $8,200
Friday, January 16, 2015

Trent Hills Independent                

By Bill Freeman                                   

The numbers tell the story: the 24th annual Curl For Kids bonspiel at the Norwood Curling Club raised $8,221 for Camp Oochigeas, the acclaimed 30-year-old residential Muskoka camp and Toronto-based program for children with cancer.                        

“It is just wonderful. The support was fantastic,” organizer Marilyn Wharram said after the final bonspiel figures were tallied.                        

The total will certainly grow this summer following the annual Bill Muir Memorial Golf Tourney organized by the Wharram family in honour of Marilyn’s later father. Funds raised at the golf tourney also go to Camp Ooch and many of the golfers are also curlers who participate in the January spiel.                        

Winning the “A” draw was the Peterborough rink of Andy Muir, Kate Clark, Jordan O’Brien and Wes O’Brien. Placing second in the draw was the team of Andy Crowell, Doris Stephens, Terry Stephens and Sheila Crowell.                        

Winning the “B” draw was the Norwood team of Paul Cole, Lois McLeod, Glenn McLeod and Ed McGriskin which edged out the Eric Mendum rink of Jeff Buchanan, Melanie Cannons and Rob Scott.                        

Winning the closest to the button competition was Ron English.                        

Sixty-four curlers participated in the event.                        

Businesses and service organizations that provided donations included the Norwood Lions Club, Hilts Butcher Shop, Insurance Protection Group, Burtt Excavating, Norwood Home Hardware, Jack’s Restaurant, James Bidgood Builders, Hardy Mix Bulk, Oakland Greens Golf and Country Club, Ontario Seed Company, Bo’s Pizza, RBC, G.E. Canada, M.J. Hairstyling, Pyle Wealth Management-Scotia McLeod, Cortesis Jewellers, Zeebon’s Signs, Lochead Lock and Safe, Topping Insurance, Conestoga Rovers, Joan Montgomery and Monty’s Leggings, and Wendy Heffernan of Arbonne.                        

There were also several individual donations supporting Curl For Kids.

The Outdoor Journal – November 22 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On this weeks show we have Sarah Nelles—Director of Programs at Camp Ooch She started as a volunteer about 15 years ago…became the Camp Director in Muskoka, and now is in charge of all the programs for Camp Ooch…Sarah will join us to catch up with the news at Ooch. We are going to talk to Zack Millar live in studio, Last week after the program…this young man dropped into the studio to see Angelo. Zack was diagnosed with A, L, L, Leukemia when he was 8 years old. And he attended Camp Ooch… He will Talk to us about his love of fishing. We are going to Go Fish in Ontario with Sharon from Lake Lauzon Resort. Our Pet Doc is back Dr. Marie Holowaychuk she will be  talking to us about how to keep your dogs healthy. Listen to the podcast here - Ooch feature begins at 20 minute slide


Supporting kids with cancer
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Parry Sound North Star                                

On behalf of the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation and Summer Water Sports, Steven and I want to thank everyone for coming out in support of the 9th annual Jump for Ooch. The day was just perfect and the show was absolutely fantastic!                        

Thank you all for opening your hearts to the children of Camp Oochigeas. It takes a whole community of new and old friends and family to make this event happen. We are truly grateful to have such tremendous support. Each and every person who is involved in this great day, whether it be through volunteering or donating, should be proud that they are making a difference in a child’s life. There will be a lot of children going to Camp Oochigeas because of you. It was a true team effort!                        

We are so pleased to announce that we raised $48,000 and still counting. All money raised will go directly to sending kids to Camp Ooch, a summer camp for children with cancer. The KRG Children’s Charitable foundation has a strong commitment to Camp Oochigeas and will continue to send children to camp. We hope that we may continue to count on your support in the future. Many, many thanks, truly and greatly appreciated!                        

Steven and Susan Wise                        


Hogg BBQ for Camp Oochigeas (children with cancer)
Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hogg has been a member of the Ready Mix Concrete Association (RMCAO) since its inception in 1959. The RMCAO has been a sponsor of Camp Oochigeas(Camp Ooch) since its inception 30 years ago and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the camp through various fundraisers.

Camp Oochigeas (Ooch) is a privately funded, volunteer-based organization that provides kids with and affected by childhood cancer with unique opportunities for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences.

Cancer changes a child’s life. So does Camp. At Ooch, they offer a wide variety of year-round camp programs for kids with cancer, their siblings, and their families. There’s something for everyone, and every program is guaranteed to be filled with friendship, fun and life-changing memories.

Watch the Camp Oochigeas video and experience the magic of the camp! HERE

This year the fundraising efforts have been directed to the RMCAO members, having a challenge for each company ready mix plant (and all associated members) in Ontario to raise $125.00. If successful this would raise close to $45,000.00 – enough money to send 15 kids to camp for a week. Let’s try for more!

Our Pat Solomon, board member and Vice Chair of the RMCAO, invites you to join him and all of us for a fundraiser BBQ on Friday August 22, 2014 in Preston, ON at 1902 Eagle Street N located off of Highway 24, from 11:30am to 1:30pm

Please help us meet our fundraising target, so Hogg can be part of sending children to Camp Ooch.

Thank you.

Swimmers raising money in Bracebridge for Camp Oochigeas
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Two local swimmers took the plunge this morning to help a local camp that serves children living with cancer.  The pair are swimming 10km in support of Camp Oochigeas along the Muskoka River and into Lake Muskoka. They started at 7am from the Bracebridge Wharf and are expected to land at the Allport Marina around 9:30/10am.

Marilyn Smart, who has raised almost $400 and Louise Hammond who has raised almost $3,000 are swimming with the support of folks in a canoe and kayak who are monitoring their progress the way down the river. Click the links below to help the swimmers raise more money for this great cause!

(Submitted Photo: Marilyn Smart and Louise Hammond just before they started their swim)


Jump for Ooch
Saturday, August 09, 2014

SWS Blog

We are gearing up for our BIGGEST ski show of the year, “Jump for Ooch” and we need your help once again. On Saturday August 9, 2014 at CLEVELANDS HOUSE RESORT from 4pm-6pm, we will be hosting, along with KRG Children’s Charity, our 9th year of this event. Every year we pull out all our craziest tricks so we can draw the largest audience possible and raise the most amount of money possible for Camp Oochigeas. Camp Ooch holds a special place in our hearts; we are so fortunate to enjoy every second of summer on the ski dock and on the water, there are so many kids who are not as lucky as we are and we want to do whatever we can to help them enjoy summer as much as we do!
Please come out and help support Camp Oochigeas and all the memories that will be created.

 Jump for Ooch

Jump for Ooch this Saturday!
Thursday, August 07, 2014

Bracebridge Examiner                                

The KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, in conjunction with Summer Water Sports (SWS), is preparing for its ninth annual Jump for Ooch fundraiser. This spectacular event will take place on Saturday Aug. 9 at the historic Clevelands House.                        

SWS is preparing a new and even more exciting show for this year.  Gearing up for the World Water Ski Show Tournament in Janesville, Wisconsin this September, members of the SWS team will be performing the acts they’ve put together for the competition. Imagine a four-tier pyramid, bare footing, wake boarding, slalom skiing and swivel board all behind one boat – quite a spectacle to see! Always trying to break their personal best, SWS will also try to outdo their 10-man bare foot skiing record and perform even more difficult stunts on the flyboard.                         

The complimentary family barbecue will be held at 4 p.m on the beach and the ski show will begin to 5 p.m. And though the event and barbecue are free, those in attendance should not come with empty pockets. There will be draws held and a silent auction with some terrific items to bid on including: golf foursomes; a weekend stay at Clevelands House; hand-crafted cabinetry from Muskoka’s finest; and tickets to sports events, just to name a few. The event will take place, rain or shine.                         

KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation’s goal is to send 100 children to Camp Oochigeas this summer to experience and share in the magic of such a wonderful place.                         

“Each year, the amount raised has increased. This is our ninth year and we are proud to have raised $450,000.00,” says Steven Wise, chairman of the foundation.                         

Jump for Ooch has become a landmark destination for cottage goers. Families look forward to the unique waterski show that always delights both the young and young at heart. Families can come early and enjoy the amenities that Clevelands House and SWS Water Park have to offer. SWS Water Park will be open all day and will give kids an added activity. All proceeds from the day’s admission will go to Camp Ooch.                        

To further spread the news of the event and generate more money for the camp, volunteers will be dropping off Jump for Ooch change boxes to local stores in the Port Carling area. Larger donations can be made directly on the KRG web site, or

Open House showcased why Camp Oochigeas is so special -
Monday, July 28, 2014

by Matt Sitler

A great turnout this past Sunday at the Camp Oochigeas Open House in Rosseau. It was a time for parents and relatives to see first hand the camp which brings so much enjoyment to kids who are living with cancer. We spoke to one camper, 12 year old Clayton Digiacomo who has been cured of leukaemia. He told us why he keeps coming back year after year…. Digiacomo is from Muskoka and he’s now been attending for seven years. Some of his favourite activities include the rock wall, swing and ropes course. Michelle Afinec, the camp’s Director of Development, says 450 campers are enrolled this year in the summer day camp program. Campers work daily on skills like swimming and canoeing. A high school gym credit is also provided through the camp… There is much more to the Camp Oochigeas organization than just the summer residential camp. Year round, the first of its kind Ooch Downtown inner city rec centre serves children living with cancer in Toronto. As well, the organization has 8 staffers who work seven days a week in the oncology department at Sick Kids Hospital helping children during their cancer journey. Overall, Afinec says the organization serves over 1,000 families and youth each year. Afinec says people tell them they want ‘more Ooch, more often’ and that in order to do it, continued community support is needed. For more information, visit -

Camp Ooch a haven for kids touched by cancer
Sunday, July 27, 2014


At Camp Oochigeas, kids affected by cancer are just like others kids, and have fun stretching their boundaries and learning new skills.

By:    GTA,                  
At Camp Oochigeas, kids affected by cancer are just like others kids, and have fun stretching their boundaries and learning new skills.
ROSSEAU, ONT.—Listening to the kids at Camp Oochigeas sing an R&B song brings tears to the eyes — tears of joy. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m the world’s greatest

And I’m that little bit of hope

When my back’s against the ropes

I can feel it


Like the lyrics, the kids are inspiring. They’ve had cancer or continue to battle it, overcoming great challenges with courage. Camp is where magic happens — where sickness gets left at the gates and childhood is celebrated.

At “Ooch” it’s done in a big way. Whether they’re hitting the mark on the archery range, reaching great heights on the high ropes course, canoeing or kayaking on the lake or to a distant campsite, making friendship bracelets or doing what comes naturally and consoling a friend who’s missing home — achievement and kindness are recognized with high fives, big smiles and plenty of pats on backs. And then there’s the Bling — braided necklaces kids wear covered with awards for their accomplishments — badges of honour. The more, the better.

Maggie Meier, 16, felt those good vibes from the first time she came to Ooch, after her doctor at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital encouraged her to go. It was the best medicine for Maggie who had been diagnosed with optic glioma, tumours on her optic nerve. She had two rounds of chemotherapy completing the last in December 2011.

“I’m good,” said the teen who was a camper and is currently a leader-in-training and had just returned from an off-site canoe trip. Before her diagnosis, Maggie had gone to other camps, but when she got sick, Ooch became her summer home.

Cancer changes lives and so does Ooch. Every year about 1,000 kids benefit from programs at Oochigeas in Muskoka, SickKids and other GTA hospitals, as well as Ooch Downtown. There are also programs for siblings and kids who’ve lost brothers or sisters.

“Camp is a safe place and (for) those who may not be as secure about being away, there’s really no place else like it,” said Maggie who loves the outdoorsy activities like swimming, high ropes, archery, learning survival skills and living out in the woods.

It’s also where campers get the help they need because a team of volunteer doctors and nurses from SickKids is at camp 24/7. “The first summer I was here, I had chemo twice and the care I received reassured me I could do anything,” she said adding when the treatment was over, she went right back to having fun at camp. “I felt pretty comfortable staff could handle anything.”

Even more important is that at Ooch, kids learn they’re not the only ones who are sick. It’s a connection like no other.

“The bonds you form here are very special,” she said adding those who don’t walk in the shoes of kids with cancer, “can’t grasp what is happening in your life.”

Maggie’s dream is to return as a counsellor and give back so other kids can have the same changing experiences. “Fingers crossed.”

If you have benefitted from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.

Goal: $650,000

To date: $617,797

How to donate: With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat — it gives these children a break in life and memories to last a lifetime.

By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6

By credit card: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847

Online: For instant donations, use our secure form at:

The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.

Event plans underway for Camp Oochigeas
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bracebridge Examiner By Mary Beth Hartill                 

New and exciting plans are underway for the ninth annual Jump for Ooch fundraiser.                         

The event organized by the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, in conjunction with Summer Water Sports, is slated for Aug. 9 at the historic Clevelands House at 1040 Juddhaven Rd. in Minnett.                        

Acts will include a four-tier pyramid, bare footing, wake boarding, slalom skiing and swivel board all behind one boat. The team will also try to break their personal best, trying to outdo their 10-man barefoot skiing record and perform even more difficult stunts on the fly board.                        

There is a complimentary family barbecue at 4 p.m. on the beach and the ski show begins at 5 p.m. However, just because the event and the barbeque are free, does not mean visitors should come with empty pockets. There will be draws and a silent auction with great items such as a golf foursome and a weekend stay at Clevelands House and much more. The goal of the event is to send 100 children to Camp Oochigeas this year.                         

“Each year, the amount raised has increased. This is our ninth year and we are proud to have raised $450,000,” said Steven Wise, chairman of the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation.                         

The SWS Water Park will be open all day to give kids an added activity. All proceeds from the day’s admission will go to the camp.

Camp Oochigeas day camp makes chemo more bearable
Thursday, July 17, 2014

By:    GTA,                    

Long before he decided to go to medical school, Nick Blanchette knew he wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and signed up as a volunteer at Camp Oochigeas for kids with cancer. He didn’t realize at the time that the experience and the kids would change his life and future.

“It’s a magical place with dynamic staff where kids get to be kids,” Dr. Blanchette said of camp between appointments at the Trillium Health Partners Credit Valley Hospital Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) clinic where he is one of four pediatric doctors on staff. When he has a spare minute Blanchette goes back to Camp Ooch, as it’s affectionately known — in its satellite location at the Mississauga hospital.

It’s easy to tell the kids are happy campers by the sounds of their laughter and their smiles.

“It’s nice to have Ooch here because it brings an element of camp to the hospital,” said Blanchette, adding that, while a counsellor in the late 90s at Oochigeas in Muskoka, he witnessed the benefits of camp every day.

“Camp is not about cancer, it’s where children get to challenge themselves” he said, adding that watching them have fun while learning new skills and reaching great heights — whether on the high ropes, canoeing to a camp site, doing an early morning polar bear dip or making friendship bracelets for their pals — was so rewarding. Those heydays at Ooch helped influence his decision to pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

And while the kids learned from him, Blanchette said he learned more from them.

“They teach you courage and show you to put up, smile and get on with it.”

Blanchette is still learning from young patients such as Pavitter Singh Soor, who was teaching the doctor how to play a card game called President. The 12-year-old is a game superstar — he gets a lot of practice playing at home with his cousins and friends. He hones those talents even further during regular chemo therapy treatments at the hospital as well as at the day camp where activities such as games and arts and crafts are a welcome distraction.

“I’m so happy Ooch is here because it makes time go by very quickly,” said Pavitter.

Diagnosed in 2010 and initially treated at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Pavitter was referred to the POGO at Credit Valley where he receives the same medical care he would at the downtown hospital but much closer to home. The family lives in Brampton and his father Jagraj Singh Soor said he’d have to take a day off work to accommodate downtown medical appointments for Pavitter. The satellite clinic is more convenient and there’s no downtown traffic to contend with.

The Credit Valley satellite is the largest of seven in the province. The Ooch day camp is one of several programs in the Greater Toronto Area for kids recovering from cancer. There’s an overnight camp in Muskoka where on-site chemo is available if needed.

Ooch day camp is where children can play before or after medical appointments and tests or, as in Pavitter’s case, during life-saving chemotherapy treatments.

Pavitter actually likes coming to the hospital and doesn’t mind the therapy, “because I don’t feel like I’m having a treatment. Being at Ooch feels like I’m at home with my family.”

Pavitter is also looking forward to the day he’ll be at the Ooch overnight camp near Rosseau, Ont. “I hear it’s amazing and I really want to go.”

This summer may be the one.

Related: See more Fresh Air Fund stories on

With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. If you have benefitted from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.

Goal: $650,000

To date: $549,294

By cheque: Mail to the Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6

By credit card: Visa, MasterCard, AMEX or Discover, call 416-869-4847

Online: For instant donations, use our secure form at:

The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.

If you have been touched by the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.

Rallying the spirit while the body fights disease: Fresh Air Fund
Thursday, July 10, 2014

By: GTA, Published on Sun Jun 29 2014        

Eighteen months ago, Nevien and Sammy Botros faced the unthinkable — their youngest child Rachel was diagnosed with leukemia.

“She just kept getting sick,” said Nevien adding her little girl was always catching colds and wasn’t responding to medications. “At the time, I was thinking it was just one of those things.”

When blood work revealed abnormal levels, Rachel was rushed to the Hospital for Sick Children where the diagnosis was confirmed.

“It was like an out of body experience,” Botros said after hearing the ‘L’ word. “It was a shock to me and my husband.

Treatment began immediately at SickKids and once Rachel was stable, she returned home. But the stress had taken its toll on Botros who was hospitalized 10 days later after her appendix burst.

“It was a difficult time in our lives,” the mother of three said, adding Rachel’s diagnosis had an impact on the whole family including sons Chris, now 14 and Andrew, 12.

“If anything, it taught me that whatever comes my way now is not a big deal. It takes a lot to rattle me now.”

With the worst over, Botros is grateful that Rachel’s medical needs can be taken care of closer to home with visits to the Trillium Health Partners Credit Valley Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) clinic. It’s the largest of seven satellites in the province and offers cancer treatment for kids referred by SickKids living in Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Caledon and surrounding areas. Rachel has been coming there since last summer for regular check ups and whatever medical attention she requires.

The medical care is the same as she would receive at SickKids, but it’s much more convenient for her family which lives in Oakville. For Rachel, it means she can also be part of the fun at Camp Oochigeas.

“Rachel just loves the Ooch program,” said her mother as she watched her daughter playing games and creating a birdhouse at the crafts table before moving over to the pint-sized kitchen and preparing lunch. “She feels better about coming to the hospital and actually looks forward to it.”

The day camp is one of several run by Ooch, and is for kids with or recovering from cancer. There are programs at POGO’s in the Greater Toronto Area, an in-house day camp at SickKids, Downtown Ooch on Bathurst St., and an away camp in Muskoka. What makes it so special is the staff, said Botros. “It’s not just a job they’re doing. They’re making a difference in the lives of children.”

Esther Yang, 25, a child life specialist at the POGO clinic is responsible for helping make hospital visits as normal as possible for kids. She works with children and families to help ease fears associated with the hospital including various tests and the administration of needles. Yang uses play as a tool to help children understand how a needle is administered using stuffed toys and teaches them the process. It’s all part of making the visit less stressful.

Ooch programs are a bonus because they make the experience less onerous. Kids can come to camp before or after their procedures and just have fun.

“Ooch is an important part,” Yang said adding the once-a-week day camp at Credit Valley helps children feel like regular kids and know they’re not the only ones going through the experience. “Ooch helps alleviate anxiety and helps children calm down.”

Dr. Ann Bayliss, chief of pediatrics and medical director of the children’s health program at Credit Valley Hospital, is responsible for POGO and is one of four doctors at the clinic. The satellite location which is closely connected to SickKids is more than a convenience for families. Ooch offers children an opportunity to play. “That’s their work, how they learn and develop,” she said. “Ooch allows them to continue their development . . . and to learn in a social context.

“Their lives have been disrupted (by their illness) and Ooch helps decrease their anxiety . . . When distracted, they sense less pain.”

When their child’s needs are met, parents can relax a little, she added. And that’s a good thing for the whole family.

If you have benefitted from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.

If you have benefitted from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.

With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp.

Goal: $650,000.

To date: $437,763.

BY CHEQUE: Mail to the Toronto Star, Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6.

BY CREDIT CARD: Visa, MasterCard or Amex, call 416-869-4847.

ONLINE: Use our secure form at

The Star does not authorize anyone to solicit on its behalf. Tax receipts will be issued in September.

Fresh Air Fund: Camp comes to ailing kids
Sunday, June 22, 2014

By: GTA, Published on Sun Jun 22 2014        

Henri McKinney is 10 years old, but he’s already spent more time in hospitals and at medical appointments than most adults do in a lifetime.

He was just a tyke when his sister Morgana, 15, gave him the gift of life donating her bone marrow for a transplant which cured him of an immune disease. The little boy spent countless hours at SickKids Hospital in Toronto meeting with doctors, nurses and therapists as well as undergoing a barrage of tests and examinations before and after surgery.

It was a nightmare for the whole family but Henri, who was 4 at the time, mustered up the courage and strength to overcome his challenges. He got plenty of encouragement from his siblings twins Morgana and Aidan, his parents as well as family and friends.

But a new round of medical care began last month when Henri, a Grade 4 student at Brookdale Public School in Oakville was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma — a tumour in his head, his mother Nancy McKinney said. This time, Henri has even more support from his new bestie Cooper, a Portuguese water-dog stuffy that attends every appointment ,whether it’s at Sick Kids or closer to home at the POGO (Paediatric Oncology Group of Ontario) clinic at Trillium Health Partners’ Credit Valley Hospital.

The largest satellite of seven in the province, the clinic was established at the hospital in 2003 offering cancer treatments for children referred by SickKids living in Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Caledon and surrounding areas. Before the satellite was established at Credit Valley, families travelled to downtown Toronto for appointments at SickKids. Reducing travel time means life is just that much easier and decreases stress for kids and parents, said Anna Geraldes, clinical co-ordinator at POGO.

A diagnosis of cancer is “a huge upheaval for families,” she said explaining that while children are diagnosed at SickKids where treatment begins, outpatient services such as chemotherapy, blood work and transfusions can be provided at the clinic, “with the same level of care.” Last year, there were 2,500 visits to POGO at Credit Valley.

A key support for children and their families is the Camp Oochigeas In-Hospital Program. Affectionately known as “Camp Ooch,” it brings the fun of camp to kids at the Credit Valley POGO clinic and gives children with cancer from 18 months to 18 years old the chance to have fun and forget about their medical challenges as they play, do arts and crafts, sing and connect with kids who are just like them. With so many activities, there’s no dwelling on sadness at Ooch.

Established in 1983, Ooch offers year-round programs for some 800 children free of cost at its residential camp in Muskoka, as well as day camps at SickKids and three regional cancer centres as well as Ooch downtown on Bathurst St. Like POGO, Ooch helps relieve the stress of hospital visits and treatments because it’s fun and happens close to home, said Lena Lloyd, pediatric clinical educator and interim patient care manager at the clinic.

Henri loves Ooch and so does his buddy Cooper who’s right there for the games and arts and crafts. Happy campers are the cherry on the sundae for Ooch counselor Katey Buchanan, 26, who comes to the Credit Valley clinic once a week bringing the magic of camp the hospital.

“It’s an awesome organization and the kids have so much fun,” she said of Ooch, adding the program helps kids focus on positive activities which alleviate apprehension that can be brought on by medical visits and treatments. Just as important, they connect with kids going through the same thing they are. It’s what camp is all about.

If you have benefitted from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.

Goal: $650,000.

How to donate: With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives these children much more than relief from summer heat - it gives them a break in life and memories to last a lifetime.

BY CHEQUE: Mail to the Toronto Star, Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6.

BY CREDIT CARD: Visa, MasterCard or Amex, call 416-869-4847.

ONLINE: Use our secure form at .

Camp boosts child’s self-confidence, independence: Fresh Air Fund Camp Oochigeas is geared to children with cancer, allowing them to simply be kids.
Monday, June 16, 2014

Janet te Boekhorst with her children: Ashlynne, 8, goes to Camp Oochigeas overnight camp while Colby, 12, and Jaxon, 10, attend programs at Ooch Downtown.

By: Leslie Ferenc GTA, Toronto Star   
 Published on Fri Jun 13 2014           

Back in August 1987, an article about Camp Oochigeas for children with cancer was featured in the Star along with a photograph of two boys, their thumbs up, to show they were having a blast at camp.

One of the boys was 9-year-old Ian Chambers who came home excited that among the people he’d met at camp was an accountant for McDonald’s who told the kids he counted French fries for a living.

It’s one of the stories his sister, Janet te Boekhorst, remembers of Ian’s first and only adventure at Ooch. He passed away several months later from Wilms’ tumour, a rare kidney cancer.

Niece Ashlynne te Boekhorst never met uncle Ian but the two had something in common. In 2010, at the age of 4, she was diagnosed with the same cancer.

Her left kidney was removed and the little girl had 13 rounds of chemo therapy in 19 weeks. It was a struggle but she rallied and by February 2011, just after turning 5, she went off to Ooch for the first time for a Weekend at Camp a.k.a. WAC. It gave her a taste of what overnight summer camp would be like. The little trooper never looked back and this year will be her fourth at the Muskoka camp.

Her mother admits seeing Ashlynne off that first time was heart-wrenching.

“It was hardest on me,” said te Boekhorst, who recalled watching her youngest child wave goodbye as the bus drove away. All she could think of was “who’s going to kiss her good night and give her a hug, just because.”

Even though the camp has a full team of medical staff — doctors and nurses from the oncology department at SickKids on duty around the clock in the Med Shed — te Boekhorst couldn’t help worry about Ashlynne’s health. “I was on edge the whole weekend.”

But her fears melted away when her daughter returned from the northern adventure. “I had not seen such a smile on her face,” said te Boekhorst. “She came back a completely different child.”

One thing that was immediately noticeable was Ashlynne’s self-confidence and her independence “which was incredible,” said her mother. This summer, the 8-year-old will return for two glorious weeks at Ooch.

Her mother won’t be crying again. “I’m much better now,” she said with a chuckle.

As for Ashlynne’s prognosis, “it’s excellent,” said te Boekhorst adding she’s been off treatment for 3½ years.

Ooch also offers programs at SickKids and Ooch Downtown where Ashlynne’s brothers, Colby, 12, and Jaxon, 10, get to join in the fun. “Cancer is very hard on healthy siblings,” said te Boekhorst, adding no family member is left out at Ooch.

Though Ashlynne doesn’t talk a lot about her experiences — “what happens at Ooch stays at Ooch, it’s her special time” — te Boekhorst is grateful the camp is there for children who desperately need to get away from their illness and just be kids.

“There are no limitations on kids at camp,” she said. “I don’t know what we’d do without Ooch.”

Ashlynne was a little shy when asked if she wanted to say something about camp. “Her smiles say a thousand words,” said her mother. “To see her smile . . . will tell you everything you need to know about camp.”

With your gift, the Fresh Air Fund can help send 25,000 disadvantaged and special needs children to camp. The experience gives them memories to last a lifetime.

If you have benefitted from the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email  or phone 416-869-4309.

Our target is $650,000.

BY CHEQUE: Mail to the Toronto Star, Fresh Air Fund, One Yonge St., Toronto, ON M5E 1E6.

BY CREDIT CARD: Visa, MasterCard or Amex, call 416-869-4847.

ONLINE: Use our secure form at:

Clarkson school raises $30K for cancer Camp
Monday, June 09, 2014

Mississauga News                        

By Chris Clay                            

MISSISSAUGA — Staff and students at Clarkson Secondary School were hoping to raise $19,000 through an annual fundraising campaign that supports a camp for children who’ve been affected by childhood cancer.                            

It’s certainly a lofty and impressive goal. And, not only did they hit their target, they obliterated it by raising $30,000 for Camp Oochigeas.                            

School guidance counsellor Jim Kinnie said the money they raised this year was the most they’ve ever raised during a single campaign.                            

“Everybody just totally buys in and participates,” said Kinnie. “Our school really gets behind Camp (Oochigeas) and supports it in such a big way.”                            

Each year, the school holds a fundraising drive to support the camp. It’s been happening for the past 13 years and Kinnie estimates they’ve been able to raise over $350,000 for the camp during that period.                            

The fundraising happens over a number of days and includes different ways of collecting the money. There’s a spare change drive and a charity barbecue and things get a little crazy and lots of fun with annual events like the milk chug and a talent show.                            

As well, almost all homeroom classes at the school organize their own individual fundraisers to support the cause.                            

The drive culminates with an assembly where the entire school gets involved. Boys volunteer to have their legs waxed, teachers agree to get hit in the face with cream pies and students volunteer to shave their heads or beards or get their hair cut to donate to agencies that make wigs for children living with cancer.                            

“Over my 26 years in teaching in both the Catholic and public systems, I had never witnessed anything like Clarkson's cancer drive before coming to teach at (the school) five years ago,” said Kinnie. “Everyone in the building gives their all to make the events as successful as possible.”                            

Recently, the staff and students presented camp officials with the cheque.

EMS tourney supports cancer patients
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Huntsville Forester

HUNTSVILLE – For 29 years Muskoka’s paramedics have invited peers from all over Ontario for a weekend of friendly competition and fundraising for various charities, some travelling from as far away as Thunder Bay. On May 24, 22 teams and over 250 paramedics and their families gathered in Huntsville, raising thousands for Camp Oochigeas.                             

While this year’s total donation is yet to be determined, the last six tournaments have raised roughly $25,000 for children with cancer. Camp Ooch has facilities located in Toronto and Muskoka, and allows many children to attend camp while they battle cancer. The camp has medical staff on site that are able to provide treatment while kids are visiting, allowing virtually everyone to attend.                            

Muskoka’s paramedic teams competed hard, but it was the local dispatch team, Muskoka ACS that took top prize, beating out Vaughan Fire. Muskoka ACS donated their $500 prize back to the charity.  Vaughan Fire received a $300 prize, but also donated it back on behalf of Penny Hicks, someone very close to the team who died from cancer last week.

Twins peddling for funds to fight cancer
Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Twin brothers Danny, left, and Darcey Brunet are members of a Toronto-based cycling team known as Team Erace Cancer. Danny, who is a cancer survivor, is participating in a number of events this summer along with his brother Darcey in an effort to raise funds to fight cancer.

Twin brothers Danny, left, and Darcey Brunet are members of a Toronto-based cycling team known as Team Erace Cancer. Danny, who is a cancer survivor, is participating in a number of events this summer along with his brother Darcey in an effort to raise funds to fight cancer.

TIMMINS - You might have seen this duo biking around the City of Timmins but what you may not have realized, is they are biking for a cause.

Identical twin brothers Danny and Darcey Brunet, both of Timmins residents, are members of a Toronto-based cycling team known as Team Erace (pronounced “erase”) Cancer.

Team Erace Cancer is comprised of individuals across the province who all share the goal of raising money for cancer-fighting charities, while participating in their beloved sport of cycling. This year, Team Erace Cancer will be donating 100% of their proceeds to help send kids to Camp Oochigeas.

Camp Oochigeas is a camp in Toronto that provides kids with cancer and kids affected by childhood cancer with a unique opportunity through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences. It is the only camp in Canada where chemotherapy and blood transfusions are offered right on site. The camp is also staffed with a paediatric oncologist and paediatric oncology nurses. The camp slogan says it all, “Where kids with cancer, can just be kids.”

Danny has his own journey to fuel his involvement in the cause.

In 2011, Danny was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Later that same year Danny's cancer returned in his lymph nodes, requiring chemotherapy treatment. Danny will always remember the youngsters that he met along his journey and how they too were bravely fighting their own battles.

“I saw many different kids getting their cancer treatments, and that is something, that I will always remember,” he said. “These kids were so resilient and somehow in their young age, they had the ability to handle such an unfortunate situation with such dignity and were even examples to the adults on how to stay positive and to take each step one day at a time. Each and every one of these kids are so deserving and I hope that with our fundraising, we can really help make a difference in their lives and that at Camp Oochigeas they can experience the joys of being kids. During my own battle, I had a lot of support from my wife, family, friends and of course my brother Darcey, who was by my side the entire time. As identical twins we really get each other and are similar in so many ways. I couldn't think of a better teammate to practice, race and fundraise with for Team Erace Cancer.

This year, Danny and Darcey are really challenging themselves with long endurance races. The twins ride bikes all winter indoors using specialized equipment and recently Danny biked more than 1,200 kilometres while visiting family in Florida.

Earlier this month they participated in an eight-hour mountain bike race as solo racers and each biked more than 130 kilometres in the trails.

Again in June, they will be raising the bar and will be participating in a 24-hour mountain bike race called the 24 Hour of Summer Solstice. This will be a challenge for both Danny and Darcey, but as Danny describes it, nothing compares to the day in the life of a child fighting cancer. They are also planning on participating in several road bike races including a 220-kilometre road bike race in July and several other shorter races in Ontario and Quebec. They are ready to ride for Camp Oochigeas.

This Saturday, Danny and Darcey will be hosting a garage sale at 543 Hart St. starting at 8 a.m. with 100% of all proceeds going to Camp Oochigeas. To make this event as successful as possible, they are accepting donations to their garage sale. For more information or to donate an item, contact Danny at 221-0760 or Darcey at 221-8983 with garage sale item donations. You can also provide a monetary donation to the cause by visiting and donating to Danny or Darcey.

Trojan Parade for Cancer delayed
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014   by: Jeff Turl

Foul weather has delayed the Trojan Parade for Cancer.

It will now take place tomorrow, May 14,  9:10 am - 11:00 am

The cheque presentations to the Canadian Cancer Society and Camp Oochigeas (a year round camp for children and teens battling cancer) will occur at approx.10:30 am at the North Bay Waterfront Bandshell.

West Ferris Secondary School students (Grades 7-12) will walk from the school to the Kiwanis Waterfront Bandshell to present cheques to the local organizations and celebrate this year’s  fundraising efforts.

The theme this year as chosen by the students is “One School - One Cause” to celebrate that the school now includes grades seven through twelve and the efforts which all students and staff have shown during our fundraising for this event. Once again, a special commemorative T shirt has been designed and sold to staff and students.

Our goal this year is $15, 000. Besides canvassing with pledge forms, staff and students have raised additional money through events such as a dressdown day, Zumbathon, elementary dance and the selling of paper daffodils which have been personalized to honour a family member or friend. These daffodils are being hung behind glass in the main showcase to highlight the names of the people we are remembering during our walk this year.

For the 3rd year, several staff and students will have 8-10 inches of their hair cut and donated to the “Locks for Love” initiative. The donated hair is made into wigs for people undergoing chemotherapy. This year Lynne Longpre, a local hair dresser has generously donated her time and skills to assist in this activity.

Also at the ceremony will be former Trojan staff and alumni who have been involved in the Parade for Cancer over the years. We are encouraging all Trojan alumni who have been involved in this event in the past years to come out to the waterfront on May 13 and help us celebrate!

Over the past 20 years, the Trojans have raised over $200, 000 in the fight against Cancer.

Cancer patient’s mom among those ready to ‘ralk’ Sporting Life 10K
Monday, May 12, 2014

Michelle Connolly and her daughter Lauren Odorico, 6, are raising money for Camp Oochigeas this weekend at the Sporting Life 10K. The camp helped Lauren get through chemotherapy and spinal surgery after she was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma last year.

Michelle Connolly and her daughter Lauren Odorico, 6, are raising money for Camp Oochigeas this weekend at the Sporting Life 10K. The camp helped Lauren get through chemotherapy and spinal surgery after she was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma last year.

By:  Staff Reporter, Published on Fri May 09 2014 
Weblink Toronto Star          

Michelle Connolly will be “ralking” this Sunday’s Sporting Life 10K.

She’s not much of a runner, but she’ll run-walk (“ralk”) to the finish line, channelling the fighting spirit of her 6-year-old daughter Lauren Odorico, who’ll be there — cheering — on the sidelines.

Diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma — a bone and soft tissue cancer — a little more than a year ago, Lauren rarely complains, Connolly says. But she had her childhood effectively taken away as she fought cancer through several rounds of chemotherapy and spinal surgery.

Camp Oochigeas, or “Ooch,” gave it back.

So on Sunday, Connelly and the rest of Lauren’s Tumour Ninjas 45-person team will hit the pavement for Camp Ooch.

“There are other families that are going through the same experience we are,” says Connolly. “They’re walking in our shoes, and I know what Camp Ooch did for our family — and we want to pass that along because it matters.”

It was a Camp Ooch volunteer who got Lauren out of her hospital bed at SickKids, who had her doing crafts on the weekends and dancing around and waving streamers, with Taylor Swift blaring from the speakers.

“She didn’t have time to feel crappy,” Connolly says. “From a child’s perspective, normalcy and having fun is what gets them through this.”

For more than three decades, Camp Ooch has offered free programs for kids with cancer at SickKids, three other regional cancer centres, their own Toronto recreation centre, a Markham day camp and a year-round Muskoka retreat.

It is the only residential camp in Canada offering on-site IV chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

“Camp Ooch was, and continues to be, right beside her through 14 cycles of chemo, spine surgery and rehab,” Connolly wrote on her fundraising page for the charity race. “If these kids can take on cancer, the least we can do is run 10K.”


The team has now raised more than $18,500 and counting, making it one of the race’s top fundraisers.

Her family plans to stay involved for “years to come,” Connolly says.

While Lauren, her older brothers Nicolas, 9, and Jordan, 8, are too young to run this year, they’ll be cheering and hoisting signs from the sidelines with their dad, friends and friends’ fathers.

The race has become a community affair, Connolly says, much like the disease that brings them to the starting line.

“Cancer doesn’t just impact the patient,” she says. “It’s a family disease; it’s a community disease . . . it’s funny when you sit back and you go through this experience, you’re amazed at human kindness.”

The Tumour Ninjas also have extra good news to propel them to the finish line.

On Thursday, at her nine-month checkup following her tumour resection and spinal fusion, Lauren was cleared to run and jump and play again.

“She’s off physical restrictions, we don’t have to tell her, ‘No, you can’t do that,’” Connolly says of her “swims-like-a-fish,” downhill-skiing, hip-hop-dancing little girl.

“She can basically do whatever she wants,” she says.

And on Sunday, she’ll cheer as 27,000 runners, walkers and “ralkers” take part in the sold-out charity run, including her own Tumour Ninjas.

To make a donation, go to

Antonia Barbaric, a grade 11 student at St. Joseph College School lost her sister Kristina to cancer on January 17th of 2013. Kristina would have graduated last June.
Monday, May 12, 2014

Coverage on CTV

Antonia wanted to help other kids with cancer so she started raising money for Camp Oochigeas, a special camp for children with cancer.  Since her sister’s death, Antonia has raised $24,000 dollars in a run, selling cupcakes and civvies days at her school. 
In just one day, she sold $2,000 worth of cupcakes at the school last week! Her family and the school’s Chaplain, Paul Dick, baked the majority of the cupcakes and have sold 1000 in total! 

  After complaining of a pain her side when she was in Grade 8,  further tests by SickKids revealed that Kristina had a rare form of cancer:  Epitheliod hemangioendothelioma (known as EHE).  This cancer is extremely difficult to treat. Kristina was able to enjoy two more years after the diagnosis but, in Grade 10, the cancer affected her ability to breathe and she entered palliative care at the hospital in November of 2012.

Antonia is once again participating in the Sporting LIfe run on Mother’s Day, May 11th

Mary Walker, Supervisor
TCDSB Communications, Public & Media Relations

Sporting Life 10K: Cancer survivors join thousands on run. The annual charity run raises money for families affected by childhood cancers. This year the race was set for Mother's Day.
Sunday, May 11, 2014

By:        Staff Reporter,              Published on Sun May 11 2014        

On their first day at Camp Oochigeas, kids are given a “button braid” on which to pin little awards and mementoes.

During the Sporting Life 10K run on Sunday, Mitchell Sarjeant’s button braid was jangling, heavy with the beads, patches and charms that remind him of all the summers he has spent at camp since 2005. He’ll bring it back again for his ninth year at the camp for kids with cancer.

The annual run raised over $2 million for “Camp Ooch,” as it’s known. Sarjeant, 17, and his family walked the Yonge St. route together on Mother’s Day. (Mom Krista ran.)

He was one of 27,000 participants that pounded the streets in the bright spring sun during the annual run that raises money for the only residential camp in Canada offering on-site chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

Sarjeant raised about $2,000 for the run and has brought in about $15,000 over the years, his father John estimated. The teen was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 8 and underwent several surgeries including a craniotomy as well as radiation and chemotherapy that finished in 2007.

Part of the beauty of Camp Ooch is that showing up with stents or scars is normal. Sarjeant has seen kids in wheelchairs reach the top of a high ropes course and campers getting chemo swim across the lake. His favourite part is singing around the campfire at night under the stars.

“Cancer is common knowledge. You can talk about it if you want to or not talk about it if you don’t want to,” Sarjeant said as thousands of runners stretched and rehydrated.

“I go back (to say) ‘look at me, I’m healthy. I went through all the same things you did and I’m feeling great. You will get through it,’” Sarjeant said.

About 400 kids can attend every summer, said medical director David Malkin, who has been running the 10K for five years but started volunteering at Camp Ooch as a resident oncologist three decades ago.

“I’ve had kids go up in a wheelchair, they’re unhappy, depressed,” he said. “After two weeks, they are changed. It’s unbelievable.”

There are many stories about Camp Ooch and about cancer shared at Coronation Park (near Fort York), where the course ended and where volunteers gave out medals in the shape of a canoe paddle.

Hugh Maw, his sister Samantha, mom Kate and dad David were there to cheer on the runners. Hugh, 7, will return to Camp Ooch this summer. Since April 24 he’s been cancer-free or “cured with no promises,” as his mom says pragmatically, from the anaplastic astrocytoma discovered in his brain in 2011.

There is a small polar bear pinned to Hugh’s button braid because he did “polar bear dips” into chilly Lake Donner each morning before breakfast.

“Cancer takes a lot away from a kid,” said Kate Maw. “Hugh missed a year of school. He wasn’t with his friends. After his surgeries he wasn’t walking. Camp Ooch gives a sense of freedom and independence.”

And for parents, some relief. For two months after Hugh’s first surgery, Kate had to be within arm’s reach of her son – doctor’s orders.

“They have all this medical support which makes a parent feel comfortable sending their kid.”

Because of the sophisticated medical program it costs $3,500 to send a kid for two weeks to the Muskoka summer camp. A program at Sick Kids hospital and a downtown Toronto facility run year-round.

Members of “dream team” fundraisers commit to raising at least $3,500, said camp executive director Alex Robertson, who was on that team himself.

Jamie Scarlett and his sons Jonathan and Michael run as Debbie’s Boys. Scarlett is the top fundraiser, Robertson said, having brought in $33,000 this year alone and in the seven years since his wife passed away from cancer has raised $140,000 for Camp Ooch.

Sporting Life 10k: New race director promises ‘seamless’ run. After last year’s popular race was marred by problems, new director Cory Freedman brings 25 years of experience to the event.
Monday, May 05, 2014


Cory Freedman, the new head of the Sporting Life 10K race, has 25 years of experience creating and managing runs.

Rick Madonik / Toronto Star                                                 

Cory Freedman, the new head of the Sporting Life 10K race, has 25 years of experience creating and managing runs.

Long before the Sporting Life 10K race kicks off May 11, the pressure’s been on Cory Freedman.

The new head of the popular run — sold out again this year with 27,000 participants — knows last year’s event was marred by undermanned water stations throughout the route and a 20-minute bottleneck to cross the finish line.

“We feel confident that the challenges that happened last year will not repeat themselves this year,” she says in a phone interview. “We’ve made some changes so that everyone’s race is seamless this year.”

The event, kicking off at 8 a.m., May 11, will raise about $2 million for Camp Oochigaes, which provides getaways for kids impacted by cancer. It’s Toronto’s largest stand-alone running event.

Some 1,200 volunteers have been amassed to steer the thousands of runners down the route which starts at Yonge St. and Roselawn Ave. and ends at Fort York.

Freedman, 49, is not only a racing veteran — she’s finished four Ironman races and multiple marathons all over North America — she’s also an organizer. Six years ago she created the popular Toronto Women’s Run Series and the three annual runs sold out from the start.

She has 25 years of experience creating and managing runs, including Team Diabetes Canada, the YMCA’s Corporate Team Challenge, the Goodlife Toronto Marathon and the CIBC Run for the Cure. Her event management company, MAX VO2 Management, specializes in endurance events and fundraising.

“I get the best of both worlds,” she says. “I get to mix my passion and my profession together.”

Longtime runner and blogger Michelle Clarke has participated in all of Freedman’s women’s races, plus Sporting Life events in the past, in her dozens of competitions.

Freedman’s events have all been well-organized, she says. “There is never an issue or question about where you need to go or what you need to do.”

The women’s runs, which all take place in Sunnybrook Park, are smaller in scale than Sporting Life. The biggest of those events is 2,000 racers. There has been plenty to make the series specific for women, with chocolate stations and shirtless firefighters handing out water. They’ve been lauded for their perfect combination of support and competition.

Freedman has been a runner since her teenage years. She organized her first race as a YMCA part-time employee while getting her phys-ed degree at York University. The midtown resident says she regularly runs through Toronto’s park system, often along the Belt Line.

Plans for the Sporting Life 10k have been in the works for the last nine months. Among the changes from last year is a longer gap between the six waves of runners at the start line.

Freedman also changed the configuration of the race’s final leg. The route follows Yonge St. to Richmond St., goes west to Blue Jays Way, south to Front St., west to Bathurst St., south to Fort York Blvd. and the finish line.

“We’ve added that detour at the end to increase the length of that finish line chute, to spread people out a bit more,” Freedman says.

As well, there will be more than 50 handlers at the end to make sure no one is held back. Last year there were only 15.

“”We’ve really pumped it up and we’ve got some security personnel,” she says. “We’ve got a huge plan.”


“Sporting Life has a whole other level to (racing),” she says. “We’re running down Yonge St., in the middle of the city. Everyone’s into it and the cause is fantastic. Everything about that is what makes our city great.

“For me, as someone that has been in this business for 25 years . . . to have Sporting Life and my women’s series, it’s really the ultimate dream come true,” she says.

Spencer West shares why he’s supporting Camp Oochigeas.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I’m so excited to share with everyone that I’ll be supporting the annual Sporting Life 10K coming up on May 11!

Since 2003, the Sporting Life 10K has made it possible for communities in Toronto and surrounding cities to make a huge impact on the lives of children living with cancer. All proceeds from the 10K are donated each year to Camp Oochigeas, or ‘Ooch’, which offers fun and meaningful programs year-round for children affected by cancer.

Pic 1

I have seen first hand how camp can have such an incredible impact for a young person, providing them with a unique opportunity for growth through activities like swimming, rock climbing, campfires and talent shows. No matter how debilitating their illness, each camper at Ooch is provided an opportunity to explore enriching, challenging experiences, be a support for one another, and make meaningful friendships that last a lifetime.

Whatever challenges we encounter in life, I truly believe that every individual can tackle mountains and redefine possible. Supporting the Sporting Life 10K is a chance for me to share this message, and help make a positive impact not only on the lives of the incredibly brave campers at Ooch, but for others who are supporting the race like me.


If you’d like to get involved in the race, this is a great experience to share with your family and friends. You can visit the Sporting Life 10K website here to find out more about how to register, fundraise, and volunteer.

Looking forward to sharing more news about the Sporting Life 10K in the coming weeks, and can’t wait for May 11!


Toews makes four-year-old Miltonian's dream come true
Wednesday, March 05, 2014


By   Steve LeBlanc             

Hooked up to an IV while being treated for a form of kidney cancer, Nicholas Skretkowski could often be found playing hockey in the hallways of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.                            

Armed with a small stick and a big passion for the game, the then 18-month-old would battle for possession against his Camp Ooch mates — with constant inspiration from hero Jonathan Toews fueling his play.                            

“I’d watch him racing around with this IV hooked up to him,” recalled mother Stephanie. “We’re definitely a big hockey family. I work at the Hershey Centre (as guest services manager) and Tom’s a big fan.”                            

The Blackhawks’ captain is never far from the now four-and-a-half-year-old Miltonian, who received a stuffed Toews doll from dad during his time in the hospital.                            

This past weekend, Nicholas came face-to-face with the real thing.                            

Now 21 months cancer free since his series of treatments for Wilms’ Tumor and Strabismus, the local youth and his family found themselves at Chicago’s Soldier Field Saturday for the Blackhawks-Penguins Stadium Series clash — part of a whirlwind trip made possible from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.                           

As if meeting his hockey idol wasn’t enough, Nicholas was given the royal treatment by the foundation and Blackhawks, starting with a visit to the team’s dressing room — where a stall was specially set up for him, complete with a #19 jersey with Skretkowski on the back.                            

Said Stephanie, “He seemed a little shy at first… overwhelmed with all the people and cameras. But when he came out of the dressing room you could see he wasn’t so shy anymore. Nicholas found out about the trip just before the (Olympic) gold medal game, so it meant so much more for us to watch it. He kept saying ‘I can’t believe I’m going to meet him.”                            

Milton’s Make-A-Wish recipient took to the ice with the newly-crowned Olympic champion for a Friday evening practice, in which Nicholas — who began lessons with the Milton Skating Club less than a year ago — scored several goals against a net-guarding Toews.                            

“It felt good. He (Toews) was really nice,” said Nicholas, who sparked a lot of smiles over the weekend when mentioning that his favourite TV show was hockey. “My favourite part was going on the ice with him and doing the (three taps) face-off.”                            

“It was great ... not just to be out on the ice with him, but to have him in here (locker room) with the guys,” Toews told “He seemed a little shy at first, but then kind of got more comfortable. Someone asked him about his favourite team and his favorite players. He seemed like he knew a lot for a little guy.”                            

The youngster was also part of the Blackhawks’ team photo before the Stadium Series game and received a jersey signed by all the players, while his family — which includes seven-year-old sister Erika — were in the stands to see Toews tally twice (including a highlight reel marker) and power Chicago to a 5-1 win over Pittsburgh.                            

“The biggest thing to me was just seeing the joy on his face,” said Tom, who fondly recalls watching Toews and the Blackhawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup with his then toddler son — sparking their shared loved of hockey. “When he was in the hospital, hockey was always his go-to-thing. It provided such a comfort. Now to have had this experience… it was just unbelievable. “The Blackhawks and Jonathan Toews were such a class act, the way they accepted him and made him part of the team for that one day.”

Bringing the camp experience to downtown Toronto
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Globe and Mail


Sporting Life 10K: Cancer survivors join thousands on run

The annual charity run raises money for families affected by childhood cancers. This year the race was set for Mother's Day.

By: Staff Reporter             
Published on Sun May 11 2014          
On their first day at Camp Oochigeas, kids are given a “button braid” on which to pin little awards and mementoes.

During the Sporting Life 10K run on Sunday, Mitchell Sarjeant’s button braid was jangling, heavy with the beads, patches and charms that remind him of all the summers he has spent at camp since 2005. He’ll bring it back again for his ninth year at the camp for kids with cancer.

The annual run raised over $2 million for “Camp Ooch,” as it’s known. Sarjeant, 17, and his family walked the Yonge St. route together on Mother’s Day. (Mom Krista ran.)

He was one of 27,000 participants that pounded the streets in the bright spring sun during the annual run that raises money for the only residential camp in Canada offering on-site chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

Sarjeant raised about $2,000 for the run and has brought in about $15,000 over the years, his father John estimated. The teen was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 8 and underwent several surgeries including a craniotomy as well as radiation and chemotherapy that finished in 2007.

Part of the beauty of Camp Ooch is that showing up with stents or scars is normal. Sarjeant has seen kids in wheelchairs reach the top of a high ropes course and campers getting chemo swim across the lake. His favourite part is singing around the campfire at night under the stars.



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Cyclists Raise $135,000 for Kids With Cancer at 14th Annual Ride for Karen
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TORONTO, ON --(Marketwired - September 14, 2015) -  Hundreds of cyclists from  across Ontario participated in Ride for Karen this past weekend -- an annual  cycling event that raises money to support programs for children with cancer and  their families, such as Camp Quality, Camp Oochigeas and Camp Trillium. The ride  started and ended at the Markham Fair Grounds with cyclists winding through the  countryside north of Toronto, passing through Markham, Aurora, Newmarket and  Uxbridge.

The event featured courses for riders of all ages and fitness  levels. Cyclists looking for a more physical challenge opted for the 100 km and  160 km routes, while the 25 km course was popular among families riding  together. A Kids Fun Ride set up on the Fair Grounds attracted tikes on trikes,  training-wheels and two-wheelers who did their part to support the cause. 

This year, riders raised $135,000. Scotiabank's sponsorship of the ride  allows for 100% of proceeds to be donated to charity.

"Camp is something  that all kids should have the opportunity to experience and the Ride ensures  that, despite illness, kids can do so in an environment with all of the  necessary medical needs and precautions in place," says Phil Smith, Senior Vice  President, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Operations, Global Banking and  Markets, Scotiabank. "Scotiabank is proud to be involved with the Ride for  Karen, which brings together families and the community to raise money for  organizations that support children living with cancer."

Since it began  in 2002, Ride for Karen has raised more than $2.15 million to help build and  furnish new cancer care facilities, provide much needed resources for cancer  support centres and send kids with cancer to camp. The ride was founded by Kirk  and Kris Tobias as a tribute to their mother, Karen Tobias, who passed away from  breast cancer.

"We're thankful for the support from Scotiabank, which  ensures that 100% of money raised goes directly to helping children with  cancer," says Ride for Karen co-founder, Kirk Tobias. "While battling cancer,  our mother wanted to inspire hope and joy for all those around her, and Ride for  Karen participants, volunteers and sponsors are doing just that -- inspiring  hope, and sharing the joy of camp with children with cancer." 

Approximately 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in  Canada and another 10,000 are already living with cancer or its long-term  effects.

About Ride for Karen

Started in 2002, Ride for Karen is  an annual cycling event that is held as a tribute to the life and legacy of  Karen Tobias and to raise money for charities that help people living with  cancer, and those who care for them. Over the past 12 years, Ride for Karen has  raised over $2 million which has been used to help build and furnish new cancer  care facilities, provide much needed resources for cancer support centres and  send kids with cancer to camp.

About Scotiabank

Through our  global philanthropic program, Scotiabank and its employees support causes at a  grassroots level. Recognized as a leader for our charitable donations and  philanthropic activities, Scotiabank has contributed on average $50 million  annually over the last five years to community causes around the world. 

Scotiabank is Canada's international bank and a leading financial  services provider in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central  America, and parts of Asia. We are dedicated to helping our 21 million customers  become better off through a broad range of advice,products and services,  including personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private  banking, corporate and investment banking, and capital markets. With a team of  more than 87,000 employees and assets of $863 billion (as at July 31, 2015),  Scotiabank trades on the Toronto BNS 0.2%.  Scotiabank distributes the Bank's media releases using Marketwired. For more  information, please visit and follow us on Twitter  @ScotiabankNews.


For  more information:
Sinead Brown / Kay West
Paradigm Public  Relations
(416) 203-2223 / 

Erin Truax
Public and Corporate Affairs
(416)  933-2592

Muskoka Rocks Road Race
Friday, February 28, 2014

Sign up today to be a part of the best race ever!


Erace Canada Cycling On
Friday, February 28, 2014

Erace Canada is cycling their way into everyone's heart.