Why we’re running to raise money for Camp Ooch

Best Health’s Jennifer Masseau (Associate Editor, Beauty & Fashion) and Melissa Greer (Content Producer) have committed to running and raising


Best Health’s Jennifer Masseau (Associate Editor, Beauty & Fashion) and Melissa Greer (Content Producer) have committed to running and raising funds for the 2014 Sporting Life 10K. Here’s why they’re doing it, and how you can help, too.

Jen: When I received a phone call just over three weeks ago from Nike’s PR rep asking if I’d like to join their Media Team running the Sporting Life 10K in Toronto on May 11th (for which Nike is a lead sponsor) I said yes, but I’ll admit, I hesitated. I’m not a runner, and 10 kilometers seemed like a long distance to work up to in just two months. But with all the inspiring reader stories that have been pouring in in support of the Best Health Challenge, I couldn’t say no to taking on a challenge of my own. (Nike also offered to guide us through to race day with an 8-week training program of group runs and training drills. We’ll share more on our progress in the coming weeks). What’s more: The race supports Camp Oochigeas, a fantastic cause I’m honoured to help support.

Melissa: Like Jen, I’ve been inspired by the stories our readers are sharing as part of the Best Health Challenge, and I’m also relatively new to running. I became a regular runner just last year when I began training for the 2013 Sporting Life 10K. It was my first 10K and only my second race (my first race had actually been only one week prior’a 5K ‘warm up’). The 2013 SL10K was held on a chilly day last May but the number of people who came out in support was astounding’the race actually sold out with 27,000 registered participants! The support from the crowd was so motivating and I’m excited to be participating again with the goal of raising enough money to send at least one child to Camp Ooch.

The Sporting Life 10K has been raising funds for Camp Oochigeas (a.k.a. Camp Ooch) since 2003, during which time the race has raised over $8 million dollars for the charity. This year’s goal is 2.2 million.

But what is Camp Ooch, and where does that money go? Founded in 1983 by a group of board members and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House Toronto, Camp Ooch is sleep-over camp in Muskoka, Ont., where kids can play games and sports, do art and crafts, experience the great outdoors, make friends, and generally just have fun and be kids. The catch? The camp also provides on-site chemotherapy IV treatment and blood transfusions.

The campers, who are admitted via a referral program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, are kids between the ages of 4-18 diagnosed with cancer. The only camp in Ontario providing this ‘social cure,’ Camp Ooch offers children who might otherwise be left out of the camp experience a full range of activities like swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Lodging in cabins divided by age group and meals are provided. Kids can participate in talent shows, evening campfires, and adventure games led by the trained volunteer counsellors, all while receive the necessary medical and emotional care for their disease from the on-site paediatric oncologist and oncology nurses.

In recent years, Camp Ooch has expanded their operations to include day camp activities at a dedicated facility in downtown Toronto, and in-hospital programming at Toronto’s SickKids hospital as well as three other regional cancer-care centres. Along with the children diagnosed, programming now also extends to serve siblings, bereaved siblings and parents.

All operations are funded entirely by generous donations of individuals, corporations’ foundations, and events like the Sporting Life 10K, and not a cent is paid by the campers or their families, the hospitals, or the government. The cost to send one children to camp for two weeks is $3,500. Ooch aims to serve over a thousand children with and affected by cancer each year.

Help send kids to Camp Ooch! Donate by visiting our individual fundraising pages at ooch.org/jennifermasseau and ooch.org/melissagreer.

Every little bit helps and we thank you for your support!
‘Jen and Melissa