Hamilton non-profit proves time and again a pandemic can’t keep them down

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Published May 20, 2021 at 7:12 am

The people behind one of Hamilton’s most impactful grassroots non-profits is in the midst of organizing one of its biggest fundraisers in a pandemic for the second year in a row and once again, they’re proving that with a little grit and guts, anything is possible.

The Cancer Assistance Program (CAP) is gearing up for its annual CARE Walk which, like last year, will go virtual.

In 2020, the fundraiser, traditionally held at Bayfront Park, pivoted to its virtual format in a matter of weeks and it ultimately turned out to be the organization’s most successful to date.

“We’re in an even trickier place than last year,” said Ashlee Leggett, CAP’s manager of fund development.

“It’s such a challenging time for so many right now.”

The hope is that the virtual format and its somewhat relaxed approach that allows participants to customize their experience will inspire the community to keep on giving to CAP.

So far, the response in 2021 has been more than what the CAP team expected and has put the fundraiser on track to be a great success.

“We’re tracking a little ahead of where we were last year at this time,” Leggett told IntheHammer. “Our goal this year is $60,000 and we’re more than 60 per cent of the way there.”

It helps that participants can complete their 5K whenever and however they want, as long as it’s by end of day May 29, the official date for the Walk.


‘Walkers’ can complete their 5K (or more) on a bike, in a pool or body of water, on a treadmill or roller skates, as long as they post and share their experience on social media and tag CAP and use the #CAPWalk2021 to qualify for a draw to win prizes.

“We want people to make it their own,” Leggett said. “Set your own goal and support in whatever way works for you.”

CAP’s Walk organizers said they can appreciate the fatigue people are feeling after more than a year of dealing with COVID-19, lockdowns and an unending stream of bad news but they’re more determined than ever to engage people and their support.

“A year ago, we didn’t think we’d be doing this again,” said Debbie Logel Butler, CAP’s executive director. “But the pandemic has forced us all to rethink how we deliver our services.”

In CAP’s case, they started a contactless delivery program that brings nutritional and incontinence supports, as well as food bags to the doorsteps of cancer patients and their families. Before, CAP’s clients would have to visit their offices on Concession to access these services.

“This has benefited our clients, especially those in the core who struggled to access the office. The need to keep moving forward and raising money for these [enhanced services] is at the forefront.

“This community has been so generous since the pandemic started, but the need this year is even greater.”

Logel Butler noted that CAP in recent months has seen an increase in the number of people seeking their Cancer-care support services as the number of cancer diagnoses across the province, and beyond, are on the rise.

The surge in the number of diagnoses is related to the fact that COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, coupled with surgical and medical procedure backlogs, has kept people from seeking treatment and care.

“People are coming to us much later in their diagnoses,” Logel Butler said. “We’re seeing the surge and we’re only going to get busier and busier.”

In an effort to give people a choice in how they support CAP in a way that is safe, accessible, and convenient, there are several ways in which the community can participate in the CARE Walk.

“We wanted people to have options and to feel comfortable,” Leggett said. “When you donate, the money stays in your community.”

Here’s how you can support CAP’s CARE Walk in 2021

  • Sign up for the walk. Participants pay a $20 fee (under 18 are free). Ask family, friends and colleagues to join your team or make a pledge towards your goal. Then get out there and get moving.
  • Corporate and local business sponsors are always welcome. So far this year, sponsors include FirstOntario Credit Union, L.J. Barton Mechanical, Morison Insurance, and Edward Jones.
  • This year, CAP is also holding a small-scale silent auction alongside the Walk for the first time to provide another way for people to safely and comfortably support the organization.
    CAP is still looking for and accepting donated items to be auctioned off for the event, so businesses and individuals can also provide support with this kind of donation.
    The online auction launches this Sunday (May 23) and runs until the day after Walk day (May 30) and can be accessed through the CAP website.
  • Purchase CAP merchandise. A Hamilton-based maker, Coco’s Creatives, has designed a line of CAP-branded t-shirts, face masks, decals and more to support the CARE Walk. A portion of the proceeds will go directly to CAP.

To sign up, donate or get more information, visit cancerassist.ca.

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