I grew up with a volunteering mindset. My dad lost his sister to a brain tumour when they were young and he has always involved our whole family in fundraising for cancer organizations.
When I was in grade four, my sister and I were watching the Kentucky Derby (we’re both big horse people!) and there was a feature on a girl named Alex—she was battling cancer and decided to start her own lemonade stand to raise funds for pediatric oncology. We were immediately drawn to it. We thought, “Hey, why not try this at our school,” and over the course of two years we raised $300! After a bit of research online, we decided on POGO as our charity of choice and we were able to present a cheque to one of POGO’s founders, Dr. Mark Greenberg himself, which was really cool.
I continued to donate and follow POGO over the years, so when I received an email from the kinesiology department at school outlining an opportunity to join Team POGO for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I jumped on it. It felt like destiny was bringing me back to the charity I started volunteering with at a young age.
I signed up to be a POGO Team Captain because I felt that my fundraising experience would give me an edge. Although $1,000 seems like a big number, we have several months to get to that goal. Erika, our POGO contact, is very helpful and motivating. She sends us weekly emails with stories that make us feel connected to the cause and coaches us on how to get the word out and raise money. A lot of students wouldn’t know how to go about it if they haven’t fundraised before.
I have never run a marathon but I am passionate about athletics. My university friends are also coming on board and we have a bit of a competition going. Of course if anyone wants to join our team, please sign up here; the more the merrier! You can run the full or half marathon or even just the 5K. All funds raised will go to support POGO and the work they do for kids with cancer.
I can see myself continuing to volunteer with POGO beyond the race. I love the values of the organization—that they support the whole family when a child is affected by cancer and they continue to support survivors later in life. The scope of what POGO does is so broad, I feel like the reasons I am committed to the cause today will change and grow as I learn more about everything they do.
Emily Hamilton is 22 years old. She recently graduated from The School of Kinesiology at Western University in London, Ontario and is working part-time in a physiotherapy clinic.