Two hurdlers from U of T’s Varsity Blues track and field team have thought of a creative way to fundraise for their goal of representing Canada on the international stage. Hayley Warren and Gregory MacNeill have both initiated crowd funding campaigns through the student run website in order to overcome the financial challenges many high performance athletes face.

The website includes promotional videos highlighting both athletes’ talents, and allows for the athletes to post brief bios promoting themselves.

Both Warren and MacNeill believe that the donations will help them train more efficiently, and that the donations will help them become better athletes. They hope to eventually compete in international competitions and put Canadian track and field on the map.

Hayley Warren

Hayley Warren. Bryan Li/THE VARSITY

Hayley Warren. Bryan Li/THE VARSITY

Twenty-four year-old Hayley Warren graduated this spring with a bachelor of kinesiology, and is planning to spend the next year training for the 2016 Olympic games.

Starting her athletic career in gymnastics, Warren was first introduced to track at her coach’s recommendation. “I participated in track for a couple years in high school but was never a serious competitor, as I lived in an area that did not offer the resources necessary to train,” says Warren. Things changed in her first year at McGill University, where she had the chance to improve because of constant training.

Fast-forward five years and, Warren has graduated from U of T and is struggling to cover the costs of her training. “Once an athlete has graduated, there is virtually no support offered from the university program,” says Warren, who also states that the monthly income of $900 she receives from the one-year, non-guaranteed, national carding contract isn’t sufficient to cover all of her training expenses.

This is why Warren believes crowdfunding is a more effective financial resource; its in enabling keeping her bid for the 2016 Olympics alive. “The money donated to my campaign will allow me to afford the expenses of being a full-time athlete. This includes things like physiotherapy, facility-use fees, gym memberships, commuting expenses, travelling expenses to competitions, housing and food expenses, as well as entry fees for competitions,” she explains. With 24 days left to attain her goal of $10,000, Warren has raised $2985.

Gregory MacNeill


Twenty-three year-old Gregory MacNeill is a fourth-year student athlete currently completing a major in American studies with minors in history and human geography. Additionally, MacNeill has Type 1 diabetes.

MacNeill’s interest in track and field stems from track day at school and watching the sport on television; however, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) gold medalist didn’t start actively training until high school when his parents suggested he join the track team.

Now, as he inches closer to graduation, the university’s financial support is coming to an end. Like Warren, he too has chosen to use crowdfunding in order to support his dreams of becoming an elite athlete.

“400m hurdles is an event that can only [be] train[ed] for properly outdoors, as it is not an indoor event. As a result of this, I must go to warmer weather training locations during the months of March and April, so that I can properly train… and not fall behind based on my training location,” he explains.

Not only does traveling to warmer facilities increase costs for MacNeill, so do the added expenses associated with monitoring his diabetes. “During my training blocks I manage my blood sugar levels extremely [closely], so that I am never at a disadvantage in my sport due to my diabetes. However, since I am managing my sugars so closely, I use a lot more diabetic supplies then the average diabetic,” he says.

Even though MacNeill is a carded athlete, and receives funding from the national carding program, it is only enough to cover basic expenses such as food and rent. Just like Warren, MacNeill’s campaign will also come to an end in 24 days — so far he has raised $970 with an aim of reaching $5000.

“The donations to my campaign will help me achieve my goals by allowing me… not [to] lose an edge because of the sometimes colder, non-conducive weather here in Toronto.” says MacNeil, adding that, “the donations will help me continue to get all the proper treatments, like massage and chiropractic as well as diabetic supplies, I need to maintain elite performance at a high level.”