An annual fundraiser for ovarian cancer research has reached its $40,000 goal, even as the event goes virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teams from across eastern Ontario are taking part Saturday in the Beau's 5K for Ovarian Cancer Canada. With the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the larger in-person event at the Vankleek Hill brewery, teams are walking and running in their own neighbourhoods.
"We’ll miss seeing all your faces this year, but we have plans to make this year’s event fantastic, even if it’s not in person," Beau's said on its website for the event. "As an upside this year, we can have unlimited participants!"
Friends and family of Ashley Courtois first launched the event in 2015, after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In the years since, the event has grown and, with Saturday's total, has raised more than $205,000.
Courtois died in 2018, but the event continues in her memory.
The 2020 goal is $40,000, which was reached late Saturday morning.
Race Director Jennifer Beauchesne tells CTV News this was a challenging year for the event, but the community pulled through.
"We knew we'd have challenges this year with the pandemic, but we also know the event has a strong, core group of supporters," Beauchesne said. "One of the advantages this year is that, on race day, I'm usually very busy, but since it's not at the Brewery this year, I was actually able to participate for the first time in many years."
Last year, the event had 450 participants and raised more than $50,000. Beauchesne said this year has 179 participants, but they still managed to hit the fundraising goal.
"We weren't sure what to expect this year, but individual fundraising has been off the charts!"
100 per cent of the proceeds go to Ovarian Cancer Canada, to fund research and support programs for women with ovarian cancer and their families.
Community Engagement and Events Manager with Ovarian Cancer Canada, Tara Frotten, tells CTV News this year's event has been incredible.
"We were hovering around twenty thousand and I thought, okay, that's not bad, but then it just took off," she said. "When I saw the thermometer hit that $40,000 goal, my heart exploded."
Frotten said her organization had to pivot to virtual for this event, like many fundraisers of this nature, but it has its advantages.
"One of the great things about going virtual is that it eliminates that geographic boundary," she said. "We had one couple participating in Tallahassee, Florida this year! It goes to show that while we're not able to gather, people are just as supportive of the cause to help these women with or at risk of ovarian cancer."
One of the top fundraisers is Gloucester-Southgate Ward Councillor Diane Deans, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September 2019.
Deans rang the bell at the Ottawa Hospital to announce she had completed chemotherapy in March.
On Saturday, she tweeted her team was "off to the races" on a beautiful but hot day.
And TEAM DEANS is off to the races! It’s a beautiful but hot day to walk 5K in support of the @beausallnatural @OvarianCanada walk! Here’s the details on our team, the amazing cause, and how you can donate https://t.co/TrtVbHS0gm #endovariancancer pic.twitter.com/ryI7flr4lb— Diane Deans (@dianedeans) July 4, 2020
To learn more about how to donate to a team or participant, you can click here.
Frotten says the fundraising page will be open for another 30 to 60 days, to allow people to chip in, but there will be an announcement Monday for top fundraisers to mark the official end of the event.