Westside Pink Day fundraiser rakes in $21,500 to help fund the fight against cancer

November 10, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Well, they did it again. Just as they have for the past 12 years, students and staff from Westside Secondary School went above and beyond at their annual Pink Day fundraiser on Friday (Nov. 4), raking in an unprecedented $21,500 for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

Since launching the event back in 2004 as a way of honouring numerous staff members struggling with the devastating disease, the local high school has bought into the national foundation’s ‘Dress for the Cause’ fundraising initiative in a big, big way. The “overwhelming” success of this year’s event has propelled Westside above the $100,000 mark in donations.

“It’s just an incredible moment, an incredible occasion,” said Christine Kirkland, the annual event’s longtime coordinator. “To be able to sit here right now and say that we’ve successfully raised over $20,000 is just so surreal. It’s completely overwhelming.”

Westside has regularly topped the fundraising charts for schools taking part in the initiative, but last year they took it one step further and became the top overall fundraiser, bringing in just over $12,000. With their 2016 total currently sitting at $21,500 (and still counting), Mrs. Kirkland is keeping her fingers crossed that the school will claim the top spot for the second successive year.

“Last year we were able to get $5,000 for the cancer clinic at the Headwaters Health Care Centre because we were the top fundraiser, so it would be really great if we able to do that again,” Mrs. Kirkland said.

Westside kicked off its record-breaking Pink Day with something new this year – inviting the public to join students and staff for a special early morning community breakfast, before launching into a full day’s worth of fun-filled games and activities. The event concluded in much the same the way it has in the past – with a celebratory assembly in the school’s gymnasium.

A crowd of well over 500 pumped up, excited, screaming teenagers crammed their way into the gym to witness some of the promises and pledges brave students and staff members had made in an attempt to raise even more money for Pink Day. On hand for the special assembly was Breakfast Television Host Kevin Frankish, who brought a couple of big CITY TV cameras along to capture exactly what this event means to Westside Secondary School.

He was quickly presented with the opportunity to find out as a wealth of nervous students made their way to the front of the room to ‘pay up’ so to speak and embrace their fate. Some, like Grade 11 student Emma Scott chose to cut off their hair. Others, such as Ben Vanzant and Aiden Macleod watched on in horror as they their legs waxed. A quick count of all the student sacrifices during the assembly raked in over $3,000.

A bottle flipping challenge and several tug of war competitions played out in front of attending dignitaries Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson and MPP Sylvia Jones before Westside faculty member and co-coordinator of Pink Day Nicole Jones took centre stage to address the large crowd. Herself a breast-cancer survivor, Ms. Jones spoke about the “incredible” support she received from everyone at Westside and thanked them for making the annual fundraiser such an overwhelming success.

That speech was met with a thunderous standing ovation before Mrs. Kirkland announced the standing total of over $21,500 to a chorus of wild cheers and celebrations. Having watched her entire student body coming together for such an incredible cause, Westside Principal Deidre Wilson said it was hard to put into words how proud she was to be a part of Pink Day.

“This is by far the most wonderful event that we do, it just warms my heart year after year after year,” Mrs. Wilson told the Citizen. “Pink Day is all about bringing us all together as one community. It serves as a great example that we can do anything when we work together. Hard work and commitment really does make a difference and I think the students truly see and experience that every year with this event.

She added, “It’s a special day for everyone.”

Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams chimed in with his thoughts on the big day, congratulating all students and staff at Westside for “making a difference”.

“It’s absolutely fantastic seeing how much money the kids and the staff over there are able to raise year after year. I’m thrilled that they did so well again,” the mayor said. “I think it really speaks to the type of community we are here in Orangeville. We’re close knit, we care about each other and we know when to step up and do the right thing. Seeing these guys stepping up to the plate once again, embracing this great cause and rising to the challenge is wonderful. Kudos to everyone involved in making Pink Day what it is.”

Having participated in Pink Day ever since her freshmen year back in 2013, senior Sarah Deckers knew she wanted to do something special for her final event. The teen stepped up and joined the Pink Day organizing committee, playing a big part in putting together Westside’s largest-ever fundraiser. Speaking to the Citizen following the event, Ms. Deckers said she had “so much fun” helping out and that she was “immensely proud” of the students for surpassing their fundraising goals.

“This event really means a lot to me. I see it as the opportunity for our students to come together, harbour all of our school spirit and be proud that we’re supporting an event that allows us to give back to the community. Even at the school, there are so many people affected by this terrible disease,” she explained.

“With that being said, I could hug every person in this school right now for what we were able to accomplish. I’m so proud of everything we’ve done.”

Having had a short time to reflect on the day, Mrs. Kirkland was quick in calling this year’s Pink Day the most successful in the school’s history. Taking into account the $21,500 total, Westside has now managed to raise over $118,300 for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.

As one of the individuals behind launching  the event in 2004, Mrs. Kirkland said Pink Day carries a special meaning for her and it was “a little emotional” witnessing first-hand how much the students at Westside continue to support the annual fundraiser.

“I’m just completely overwhelmed by today. We’ve never come close to raising the sort of money we’ve brought in today… Getting over $21,500 is remarkable,” she said. “It’s such a fantastic reflection of our students. Sometimes youth get a bit of a bad name, but this event really exemplifies what kids can do when they have a cause that they can get behind.”

She finished, “Everything about today is just crazy. All of our estimates, all of our goals, all of our expectations, the students completely blew them out of the water. This is going to go down as our most successful year ever. I’m so incredibly proud of everyone that helped make today what it was.”

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