U Sports’ Shoot for the Cure virtual campaign took place Feb. 1-7
Since 2007, Canada’s governing body of university sports, U Sports, has been organizing Shoot for the Cure: a fundraising campaign to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. In past years, U Sports affiliated universities and their women’s basketball programs would organize basketball games where teams would swap their regular colours for pink jerseys and raise funds for the cause.
This year, U Sports announced the campaign would take place online from Feb. 1 to 7. But even with the shift, various teams throughout Canada have stepped up to make the weeklong digital event the best it can be.
For the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s basketball team, this is a cause that is near and dear.
“Our assistant coach, Mario Gaetano, had a loved one, his wife Rita, recently pass away at the beginning of 2020 after her battle with cancer,” said Melina De lulio, a third-year Gee-Gee.
“When our whole team plays for Rita for example, it brings us together even more than usual. Overall, a lot of the girls on the team have known someone that has been affected by cancer, whether it be a family member or friend.”
The junior from Burlington also has a personal connection to the fundraiser.
“When I was younger my mom had breast cancer, experiencing my mom going through that at a young age I didn’t really understand the extent to what was happening. Seeing her get treatments at home as well as visiting at the hospital after surgeries became almost normal to me,” De lulio said.
“It really means a lot to me to be able to play or support a cause that has affected my family personally. Also, since breast cancer is a genetic factor in my family, the Canadian Cancer Society is something I support and want to promote since they work towards saving the lives of the future generations to come.”
“I play for my mom, Vicki & Rita.”
While the Gee-Gees will not be playing in their regular Shoot for the Cure ‘pink’ game or running raffles, each Gee-Gee has a personal fundraising goal of $75. The basketball team’s goal is to raise $1,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The Gee-Gees will be updating their social media accounts to promote the event and encourage fundraising efforts.
“Unfortunately due to COVID-19 restrictions at this given time we are extremely limited with what we can do out in the community so right now,” De lulio said, “we share the information with family, friends and the rest of the Gee-Gees community while also brainstorming fun ways for people to get involved.”
Across the country there has been plenty of involvement from teams and athletes beyond U Sports basketball programs. Each involved program has a long list of engaging events taking place throughout the week.
All teams and athletes participating also have their own pages where people can support their school and donate to the cause.
Some members of the Ryerson University women’s basketball team went live on Instagram to cut and donate their hair for the cause. The Carleton women’s basketball team hosted a virtual skills clinic.
The University of New Brunswick Reds are hosting a whole week of activities including paint nights, trivia nights and skill sessions put on by members of the women’s hockey team.
“Myself and two of my teammates held a virtual skills session on Zoom, it had a great turnout … we were able to raise over $1,300,” said Jenna MacLean, a third-year player on the Red’s women’s hockey roster.
“Supporting the Canadian Cancer Society is important to our team and athletic department as we have members of our school community that have been impacted or are currently being impacted by cancer,” MacLean said.
“Being able to show support and bring us closer to a cure is the least I can do.”