Weekend dragon boat festival in Lachine raises more than $595,000 to support cancer patients and families at the MUHC
The 18th edition of the BDO Cedars CanSupport Dragon Boat Race, which was held on Saturday, September 9, in Lachine, raised $595,000 – and counting – for Cedars CanSupport: an organization that provides programs and services that improve the quality of life of cancer patients at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
“This fundraiser is so important for us and for the patients and families who need our support,” said Jeff J. Shamie, President and CEO of the Cedars Cancer Foundation, which funds cancer research and care at the MUHC. “It wouldn’t be possible without our title partner, BDO, without our many other partners and donors, and of course, without our paddlers and volunteers. This day is about a community coming together to have fun and to raise money to support those who are at their most vulnerable. It's extraordinary,” he added.
Cedars CanSupport was founded in 1984 by Gwen Nacos, after she underwent treatment for cancer at the MUHC and noticed that there was not much in the way of services to help patients who lacked resources and a strong family support network. “No one should have to go through their cancer journey alone,” she stated.
Today, Cedars CanSupport is run by a team of professionals whose goal is to improve the quality of life of people who are coping with cancer. In collaboration with the MUHC’s Cancer Care healthcare team, they provide a wide range of free programs and services to cancer patients and their family members. These include:
- Psychological support
- Financial assistance
- Educational services
- Complementary therapies (like yoga, massage, meditation, art therapy, and music therapy)
- Support groups and social activities
- Beauty and skincare workshops
- Free wigs and turbans
- A resource centre that provides information about cancers, treatments, and external resources.“
We also rely on a team of dedicated volunteers, who help patients check-in for appointments, find their way around the hospital, find information about their cancer, find the perfect wig, or even find a taxi,” explains Cedar CanSupport Director, Dr. Virginia Lee. “Sometimes, the most important thing we can do is to offer a warm smile and some kind words. We cannot underestimate the power of one small act of empathy – it can make the difference between a bad day and a good day.”
Founded in 2006, the Cedars Dragon Boat Race had humble beginnings, with just six boats and a few dozen participants. Thanks to the support of BDO (formerly FL Fuller Landau), which has been the event’s title partner since 2007, it has grown considerably. This year, it brought out more than 616 paddlers on 28 boats.
“BDO has been incredible,” said Jeff Shamie. “Their employees, families and friends have raised nearly $8 million for Cedars CanSupport throughout the years, and we couldn’t do this without them.”
“BDO is proud to have been part of the Cedars Dragon Boat Race for 16 years,” says Jaimie Auger, who has co-chaired the event for several years with fellow BDO partner, Ernie Furt. “Everyone is touched by cancer, eventually. We’re pleased to play a small role in making life a bit easier for those who are going through it now.”