Considering virtually everyone has been impacted by cancer in some fashion, the 2019 version of the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair has added a special attraction to its steer sale to benefit youth fighting and surviving the disease.
This year, a steer named Profyle will be put up for sale at 7 p.m. on March 29, with proceeds benefitting an initiative of the same name.
The Terry Fox PROFYLE (Precision Oncology for Young People) program brings together the country’s best pediatric scientists, clinicians, research centers, cancer charities and hospital foundations to give young cancer patients alternative methods of fighting the disease should they run out of conventional treatment options. To date, the organization has raised $16.4 million, which has been used to profile tumors of young people from throughout Canada.
As a partner of the PROFYLE program, the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation is in the midst of a campaign to raise $1 million for the initiative and the proceeds from the sale will contribute to that.
“Our grandson was diagnosed with cancer at 10 and a half months old,” said Dallas Johnston, chair of the RMWF Cattle Show committee. “He’s doing well now, but while the process was going on, we would go to CancerCare Manitoba to get treatment, or for surgery on the fifth floor of the (Health Sciences Centre’s) Children’s Hospital and walk out feeling we wanted to do something. My wife and I thought this would be a way to give back.”
Johnston arrived at helping PROFYLE after discussing the fundraising opportunity with representatives from the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Donations are being collected throughout the RMWF’s five days at a kiosk being operated by PROFYLE in the Royal Farm Yard at the Keystone Centre.
“Investment in PROFYLE optimizes our donors’ generous support,” said Annitta Stenning, CEO of the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. “This national collaboration is incredibly important to CancerCare Manitoba’s ability to treat these young patients. We cannot do this alone in Manitoba and that’s why this initiative is so exciting and provides tremendous hope.”
The steer will be available for open sale, including by phone at (204) 724-5367 or (204) 841-3880. However, Johnston will be bidding on his own animal with money raised through the week in the hopes of benefitting even more people.
“I have no idea how much it will bring in,” he said. “What we’re hoping is that lots of people contribute to buy the steer and if we’re the successful bidder, we’ll donate the meat to another charity. If someone else outbids us, they do what they choose with the steer, but we take the money raised from the sale and donate it to the cause.”
Johnston was moved by both his grandson’s experience and at the sight of other children fighting for their lives at cancer care facilities in Winnipeg. Healthy people really have little to complain about, he said.
“I always tell people that if they think they’re having a bad day, just go to the third floor of CancerCare Manitoba and see how bad their day really is,” he said.