By: Sean P. Young
Nearly all industries were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but few were forced to pivot as dramatically as those running in-person events. For fundraising event organizers like Ryan Campbell, director of corporate relations at the Alberta Cancer Foundation, more than two years of evolving restrictions during the pandemic represented a unique challenge with millions of dollars supporting cancer care, research and patients at stake.
“My biggest takeaway is we now have two years of experience pivoting to virtual and the participants also have the experience of participating in virtual events,” says Campbell, who oversees one of Alberta’s leading fundraising events, the Enbridge Tour Alberta for Cancer.
Campbell says numbers for the in-person Tour Alberta 2022 event, which took place in July, were down slightly, but he expects them to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. He says the virtual component, which allows people from all over Alberta to participate how they want — be it a walk, cycle or run around their neighbourhood — is here to stay, and is one of the good things to come out of the dramatic shuffling his team had to do during the pandemic.
“It was actually a really great opportunity for people to get involved who may have not gotten involved before,” Campbell says. “The big word for us is ‘accessibility.’ Before, the Tour was seen as kind of an elitist cycling event. And that’s not the image we want to have. We want this to be a community that anybody can be a part of.”
The requirements for entry to the live Tour Alberta event remains, raising a minimum of $2,500, being able to cycle more than 200 kilometres and being accompanied by an adult if you’re under 18. But, Campbell says, with the virtual walker, runner and cyclist options added this year, none of those restrictions exist. The event is also offering a change in how participants can allocate the funds they raise.
“For the first time ever, we’re allowing participants to select one of the Alberta Health Services’ 17 cancer centres,” Campbell says. “That guarantees that, if they pick one of those options, those dollars are going to stay in their community.”
Michelle Pitt, philanthropy events lead for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, says in-person events are returning at nearly full force in 2022, but virtual events will continue to grow.
“It really allowed the sector to start shifting its approaches to look at not only live events, but more hybrid style and fully virtual events,” Pitt says. “We are really excited and looking forward to the next chapter.”
Here are some of the Foundation’s top fall fundraising events:
Legacy Walk For Cancer
The fifth annual Legacy Walk for Cancer takes place on the beautiful Legacy Trail, which is a 27-km stretch between the Coast Plaza in Canmore and the Fairmont Banff Springs. Walkers can participate in person over one or two days or go virtual and walk wherever they feel comfortable. All proceeds will be donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
GEDFest in Memory of Gordon Edgar Downie
Tragically Hip tribute band Trickle Down will again celebrate the late Gord Downie with a show that will be live-streamed. The rocking campaign includes a silent auction. All proceeds will be donated to the OWN.CANCER campaign through the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
U Of A Engineering Head Shave
Since 2003, the University of Alberta Engineering Students’ Society has raised more than $400,000 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation with this annual head shave event. The event is live-streamed so you can donate and watch participants lose their locks from the comfort of your own home. All proceeds will be donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
For full details on these events and more, visit albertacancer.ca/event-calendar.