Queen’s student efforts raise record funds for cancer research

Cure Cancer Classic Commerce-Engineering Rivalry game on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024. Photo via Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.

Queen’s University is celebrating a record-setting donation from this year’s student-led Cure Cancer Classic.

The student-organized fundraising initiative includes a number of flagship events, most notably the seventh annual Cure Cancer Classic rivalry hockey game between Engineering and Commerce students at Queen’s. 

This year’s rivalry game was hosted at Slush Puppie Place on Thursday, Mar. 14, 2024, and the event raised $338,344 after a dollar-for-dollar match through the Canadian Cancer Society. Fundraising efforts throughout the 2023-24 school year resulted in a record-breaking annual total of $624,103. 

Going into last year’s fundraising season, Queen’s was aiming to surpass a milestone of $1 million raised through Cure Cancer Classic initiatives. 

Considering that $1 million is a tally of 17 years of cumulative fundraising efforts, over half a million raised in one year represents a significant increase from where fundraising efforts once were. 

Those targets are met primarily through four main events: the September golf tournament, November’s inter-faculty tournament, the Commerce Classic hockey tournament in January and finally March’s rivalry game. 

Kate Sheedy, one of the co-chairs of the Cure Cancer Classic organizing team, said coming out of COVID ,there’s been a lot of interest in participating in or attending events. The renewed interest has helped the four main Cure Cancer Classic events set record-breaking numbers on a year-to-year basis, this year blowing past their initial target. 

“Our goal was $500,000, last year we raised $450,000, and we obviously blew that $500,000 out of the water,” Sheedy said. 

“The club has kind of just gained traction in the past few years, especially coming out of COVID… And so each tournament [Commerce Classic] had record-breaking number of participants who all have to raise a minimum fundraising amount, and a lot of people tend to go above and beyond that.”

This year’s fundraising efforts resulted in close to $200,000 more donated, compared to the last school year. 

Sheedy said the organizers made an effort this year to also include some smaller-scale events in addition to the main fundraising events. She addedthat given the difficulties individuals and businesses are facing economically, widening the breadth of opportunities for businesses to get involved could make it less onerous for them. 

Smaller events included things like a ticketed hockey viewing night at The Brass Pub where the business offered some drink and meal deals to help bring students in, and, for their efforts, saw what would likely be an uptick in business for a weeknight. 

Sheedy noted that contributions from a variety of donors don’t have to be huge to really make a difference in fundraising, and organizers have tried to come to businesses with opportunities that could be mutually beneficial.

“I think we both realized last year that going to a big company and saying, ‘Hey our title sponsor is $15,000 if you’re interested…’ that is a huge ask, let alone with the local businesses in Kingston,” Sheedy said. 

“So it’s really all about catering the ask… And something we’ve kind of tried to leverage this year is our partnerships portfolio, and that more so than sponsorship and the ask being monetary, it’s more like how can we work with you to increase your value and simultaneously ours?” 

Sheedy said she feels the events have reached a scale at this point that there’s interest throughout the community, and not just within Queen’s as a student-led initiative. She said that the continued, growing success of the fundraising efforts shows how much of an impact students can make.

“I think what’s so cool about leading this is that it really does prove that students can do anything,” Sheedy said. 

“We’ve put on four very successful events and raised a ton of money along the way, which I think people would probably not assume is something students are capable of… our reputation, I think, is one that’s definitely more positive and that the impact spans far beyond just the Queens community obviously… like $600,000 for cancer research is incredible.”

The first $250,000 raised by events is matched by the Canadian Cancer Society, with that $500,000 going to the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. The remaining nearly $125,000 will go to Dr. Gelareh Zadeh’s research lab, which is in partnership with Brain Canada running trials on glioblastoma tumours.

Owen Fullerton is a Kingston-based reporter with the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI). The LJI is funded by the Government of Canada.

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