Rise and shine! It's time to raise $1M for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

Business, community leader Ian Sherman serves as event chair of Cancer Champions Breakfast in its new virtual format
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Breakfast chair Ian Sherman and host Catherine Clark share a cup of tea together to help promote the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation's signature fundraiser, the Cancer Champions Breakfast. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Nearly one in two Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. If you don’t get it, I probably will, but if I don’t get it then you ​– well, enough said.

The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation (ORCF) is gearing up to host its signature fundraiser, the Cancer Champions Breakfast, on Wednesday, Sept. 16. All the money raised will help the non-profit organization support clinical trials and research efforts in Ottawa and cover the costs of running its free cancer coaching program. 

The popular benefit was originally slated to take place this past May but had to be rescheduled due to COVID-19. Since large gatherings still aren’t happening these days, the fundraiser will follow a virtual format. Supporters will be able to safely connect to the breakfast in the comfort of their homes or workplaces. The event is being hosted by well-known entrepreneur and public speaker Catherine Clark.

This year, organizers aim to raise $1 million. The ambitious target includes a special campaign in honour of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s 25th anniversary. The ORCF is counting on 25 individuals, families or corporations to step up and donate $25,000 each. If successful, the organization will be well on its way to reaching that $1-million goal.

“We’re going to get there; I’m convinced that we’re going to get there,” breakfast chair Ian Sherman, tax practice market leader in the Ottawa office of global professional services giant EY, told OBJ.social. “The next three weeks are going to be pivotal, but I think it’s attainable.”

It’s especially important this year that the breakfast raises big bucks. It’s had to scratch more than 50 fundraisers due to the COVID pandemic. It’s also been a bad year for cancer patients dealing with cancelled or delayed appointments, treatments and surgeries. 

The ORCF’s cancer coaches were extra busy this past spring providing information, guidance and support to cancer patients dealing with the anxiety, fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID. All the appointments with the coaches were done through a secure video-chat platform. 

"Cancer hasn’t stopped, unfortunately. It’s going to claim the lives of some 80,000-plus people in Canada this year."

“Cancer hasn’t stopped, unfortunately,” said Sherman, speaking at the ORCF's Maplesoft-GumDocs Centre for Cancer Survivorship on Alta Vista Drive. “It’s going to claim the lives of some 80,000-plus people in Canada this year. 

“We have many in our community who are going to succumb to this terrible disease. We need to do more research. We need to do more (clinical) trials. We need to do more coaching because of all of this. 

“There are so many worthwhile health-care organizations, and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is one of them. We need people supporting it.”

As of last week, organizers were nearly halfway there, at $466,000 raised. They had secured some 15 donations of $25,000 ​– including one from Sherman and his family.

“It’s leadership by example,” said Sherman, who’s proud that he and his family could contribute financially. “I would encourage anyone else who has the means to do it.”

The breakfast will feature such guests as senior scientist Dr. John Bell, a pioneer in the oncolytic virus field; ORCF program manager Stephanie Woodard; Ottawa neurosurgeon Dr. John Sinclair; and cancer champion Chuck Merovitz. As well, the public will learn how cancer coaching helped cancer survivor Jocelyne Liko and her husband Wayne Liko.

Sherman took over as event chair from longtime volunteer fundraiser Gregory Sanders. Sherman's new role turned more meaningful than ever after his father-in-law was handed a cancer diagnosis this past spring. 

Paula Muldoon, vice-president of development and community engagement for the ORCF, knew Sherman was the perfect guy for the job. She convinced him to do it, assuring Sherman he’d have the support of the ORCF staff and leadership council.

“Ian is a leader of leaders in our community,” Muldoon told OBJ.social, adding that everyone enjoys working with Sherman because “they trust and believe in his community priorities.

“Ian is one of the kindest and most well-respected human beings that I have had the pleasure of getting to know.”

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Wayne and Jocelyne Liko will be sharing their story at the Cancer Champions Breakfast of how the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation's cancer coaching helped them through their difficult cancer journey. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Joining Sherman on the leadership council are: longtime cancer fundraiser Peter Charbonneau, BLG managing partner Katherine Cooligan, consultant Kevin Fitzgerald, Browns Cleaners president Mack MacGregor, The Foundation (WCPD) founder and president Peter Nicholson, MDS Aero Support chief financial officer Wayne Penney, Equitas Consultants president Ron Prehogan, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall partner Katherine Shadbolt, Syntax Strategic president and CEO Jennifer Stewart, Regulus Solutions CEO Mark Wells, and, from the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Muldoon and her colleagues Josée Quenneville and Kelly MacNaull.

In addition to Sherman’s community work with the cancer foundation, he’s also chair of the Ottawa Board of Trade and involved with the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.

“It’s definitely in my DNA,” he said of his community service. “I’ve had some wonderful family examples, particularly some aunts and uncles who have given back to the community.”

As well, EY is a premium sponsor of the breakfast, along with Brazeau Seller Law. “It’s part of our culture and it’s promoted within the firm that we, as partners and EY colleagues, need to be community leaders, not just business leaders but community leaders,” said Sherman.

Sherman has been with EY for nearly 31 years and will be retiring in June as a partner. The company has a mandatory retirement age for partners. Expect him to continue working, though, and to cultivate his relationship capital.

“Family, friends, community, business ​– my whole world revolves around relationships,” says Sherman. “That’s why I do this kind of thing. It’s very, very fulfilling.”

The public is encouraged to register ahead of time for the breakfast at  www.cancerchampions.ca. From there, supporters can decide whether they’d like to be a guest, a table captain or a sponsor.

Registration is free, but guests should keep in mind that the event is all about raising money for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and helping it reach its $1-million goal.

caroline@obj.ca