A local Nanaimo brewery raised $20k for a cancer support group, and plans to do it again later this year.
Wolf Brewing Company joined together with Man Up To Cancer on January 18th to hand over the check. Last September, they hold a forum as well as a silent auction. All the money from the silent auction was donated to Man Up To Cancer, a cancer support group specifically for men.
The event attracted around 120 guests, who listened to guest speakers talk about the struggles with fighting cancer, both medically and emotionally. It ran from 12pm to 4pm.
It raised around 20k from the silent auction, sponsors, and Wolf Brewing.
Canadian ambassador for Man Up to Cancer and retired RCMP officer, Don Helgeson says that $20k will go towards backpacks, support, and retreats where men can open up to each other about their cancer struggles.
“When we started to talk about what we could do locally here, it was first just talking about perhaps doing a local chemotherapy backpack program for the local men that are dealing with cancer,” said Helgeson. “That grew quickly because everybody we talked to— when we were talking about getting sponsorships for the event— wanted to contribute to that. It led to there being a lot more funds available. That led us to having the discussion about having a local ‘gathering of wolves’ for the men who are local here on Vancouver Island. So when we talk about having the $20,000 available to us, what it’s going to do, it’s allowing us to create chemotherapy backpacks for local men, but it’s also going to allow us an opportunity to have a retreat somewhere here on Vancouver Island. We’re actually in the process of starting to plan that now.”
Helgeson says the program is important because many men may not be able to speak about their issues.
“When I posted within the group what I was going through,” said Helgeson, a three-time cancer survivor, “other men who had experienced the exact same thing came forward and provided me with some information and support. So I think that’s the biggest thing that we’re doing here, is that we have every day in Nanaimo— or I’m gonna say weekly, whatever the numbers are— we have men who are going to be diagnosed with cancer in our community. One of the things that men do not do, typically historically, is reach out for help. They may get that help from their spouses, their closest friends, but chances are they aren’t going through anything they’re going through.”
He says the collaboration between Wolf Brewing was ‘a match made in heaven’, because members of Man Up to Cancer are part of the ‘wolfpack.’
“For me, it was, it was one of those things where I’m not sure I know a single person that hasn’t been impacted by cancer,” said Rob Regner, co-owner of Wolf Brewing Company. “So when we first sat down and they shared their stories with me and they shared the history of what Man Up to Cancer is all about, and what they’re doing… I think my words were, ‘you know, guys, it’s not a matter of if we’re gonna do something, it’s what are we gonna do and how can we make a difference locally?’ And I think that for me, the team of Wolf Brewing were on the side right from day one is not an understatement, but it was really about how do we go about really making a difference locally, that’s kind of where the journey really began.”
The event is planned to happen again this year on September 23rd, and both say not much will be changed compared to the original event.
“To be able to kind of hear from clinicians who work with cancer fighters every day and hear from the actual cancer survivors and caregivers what their experience is, the reception from the audience was just fantastic. The Q&A period, the types of questions that started to flow out of the audience was amazing,” said Regner.
More information about the support group is available here.