10th Annual Skip to Equip raises $80,000
Tim Brody - Editor
Fifty-five times. In 2018, Sioux Lookout resident Sue Anderson heard the words no one ever wants to hear, you have cancer. Over the course of her battle with the disease, Anderson, now cancer free, had to visit a hospital 55 times for treatment.
Donations and fundraisers like last weekend’s Bearskin Airlines Skip to Classic support the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) Foundation to purchase equipment for the hospital.
Thanks to this generosity and ongoing efforts to support the hospital, Anderson had to travel out of town for treatment just four times.
“Fifty-one times I didn’t have to stay at a hotel or crash on someone’s couch or bed. Fifty-one times I didn’t have to get pulled away from my extraordinarily loving and supportive family. Fifty-one times I could just walk or drive down the street to get the care I needed. We have a really special hospital here,” Anderson told participants at this year’s Skip to Equip women’s curling fundraiser.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, 21 teams took part in the event at the Sioux Lookout Golf and Curling Club which ran from Nov. 12 to 14.
The event had to be cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with loosened public health restrictions, the event was able to proceed this year with a reduced number of teams and everyone abiding by public health measures, including everyone being fully vaccinated.
Skip to Equip Committee member Natalie Popovic shared, “We weren’t able to run the ticket draw. We had less people in the event (as many as 32 teams in past years). We had to be closed to the public at certain times, it was a little bit harder to raise money… so when you see that final number, everyone was shocked, surprised, excited!”
With the support of the community, businesses both local and outside of town, the efforts of participants in collecting pledges and the hard work of the Skip to Equip Committee, this year’s event raised $80,000.
Prior to this year’s total being revealed, the event had raised over $605,000 for the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre Foundation.
Monies raised in past years have gone towards diagnostic equipment, including mammography, ultrasound, and a C-arm for the operation room.
Funds raised this year, along with funds raised in 2019, will be put towards the replacement of the health centre’s IV pumps. It is hoped that with those funds, along with money raised through the health centre foundation’s upcoming 50/50 draw, the full amount to replace all of the health centre’s IV pumps will be raised.
“I think I was in shock as well too. I never dreamed, I thought it might have been around the $50,000 mark,” Foundation President Christine Hoey said of this year’s Skip to Equip total.
“Businesses were so generous to this and understand how important this is and the girls and women that were here were so excited to be doing something, the camaraderie of it, the fun, that’s one of the reasons it has been so successful. I think this year with COVID, I don’t think anybody thought we would raise that much, but I think deep down, everybody knows how important it is and I think it’s just great,” she added.
“We know, talking to the committee members and talking to people on my team, we know how important it is and I know, being chair of the foundation, how important it is, and previous to me, my mom (the late Marnie Hoey, also a former SLMHC Foundation president) and Harvey (Friesen, past president of Bearskin Airlines and a SLMHC Foundation board member who passed away in 2014), a lot of the people who have made this what it is, we just need to still encourage the locals, the new people to Sioux Lookout, the younger generation, that if we don’t have to make a trip to Thunder Bay for a procedure because we can get it done here, that’s huge. Anybody who has ever had any family member who has had to travel for health care knows how disruptive that is, and if they’re not well, how awful that is to be in a hotel room or a hospice or something, to not be able to be in their own bed when they could get the procedure here. I think Sioux Lookout is, the other towns are doing the same thing, they’re fundraising as much as they can, but I think in Sioux Lookout, because it’s a small town and has an everybody knows everybody mentality, there really is a big push for it because we’ve got experts like Dr. Eric Touzin, we’ve got people like Sue Anderson who told her story and has been in health care as a nurse and in management.”
“Amazing! We’re a small group of women from a small town and it’s a lot of people coming together who have done this all 10 years. To think that we’re digging deep every year to find a way to put money towards the foundation, we recruit as many people as we can year after year, but it’s a lot of the same women coming back to this event. It’s a little bit humbling that this amount of people can raise that amount of money over 10 years… but the best part about this is that our money stays right here for us,” Popovic said.
Dr. Eric Touzin, a general surgeon at SLMHC and a foundation board member, shared with event participants that thanks to the foundation, SLMHC is now just the third hospital in Ontario, the first community hospital, to have a game changing piece of medical equipment.
Very recently he and his colleagues heard about a new tool to help track breast cancer during surgery called Sentimag.
He said that to find and remove a tumor would historically require a radiologist to put a needle in the tumor so that surgeons could follow the needle and remove the tumor. SLMHC does not currently have a radiologist he said. Unless one was visiting, patients would in the past have been sent out of town to get the needle placed for surgery and would have to return right away for surgery. Now a radiologist can place a small piece of metal where the tumor is, which surgeons can locate with a magnet, and there is not a rush to get patients back for surgery.
“This event was born from, the club curling committee partnered with the foundation 10 years ago and said, we as women curlers, one, we want to have a women’s event, two, we want to recruit women to curl, and three, we want it to go towards a good cause, and that’s what’s built the Skip to Equip event,” Popovic added, recounting the inspiration for the event.
Six of this year’s participants raised over $1000, Cindy Henrickson, Marlene MacDonald, Kelli-Dawn Baker, Laurel Hakala, Muriel Anderson, and Norma Koval.
“This is local and the money stays right here and people are passionate about this event, and year after year we’re surprised by the generosity of the community,” Popovic stated.
Curlers from Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Kenora, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg took part in the event.
Participant Alyssa Wiseman shared, “It was awesome. Had a great time and can’t wait to do it again next year.” This was her third year competing.
Participant Dawn Sauve of Dryden shared, “We’ve been curling in it for 10 years. Love it. Enjoy it. It’s so much fun!”
Participant Sylvia Davis shared that this was her fourth year competing in the event. “It’s so good to be with a group of people… Just really happy to be part of it and support our town.”
The fundraising event followed a skins format.
Tied for first place were the Dawn Sauve team and the DeGange team, both from Dryden.
Sharing second place were the MacDonald, Baker, Brunton, and Koval teams.
Tied for third place were the Wooden and Driscoll teams.
Skip to Equip Committee Chair Laurel Hakala concluded, “The biggest thank you goes out to you, the participants, who collected pledges and the businesses that donated, without you all, we don’t have an event… Every dollar helps.”