Members of the Varsity Blues field hockey team cut their teammates’ hair for charity. PHOTO BY MADISON KOEKOEK, COURTESY OF THE VARSITY BLUES

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues program recently wrapped up its annual Think Pink #BleedBlue campaign. The campaign, which serves to raise awareness for breast cancer through special events, is in its 11th year. Events this year included pink pancake Wednesdays, pink t-shirt sales, and giveaways during Blues sporting events.

According to Mary Beth Challoner, the Varsity Blues’ Events and Marketing Manager, Think Pink is not the name of a Varsity Blues-affiliated foundation, but it is a slogan that matches nicely with the Blues’ #BleedBlue mantra. Rather, U of T is “connected to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation [CBCF], Ontario chapter, the same group that runs CIBC run for the cure,” wrote Challoner.

During the Think Pink week, Blues fans wore pink ribbons, events staff flaunted bright “Varsity Blues vs. Breast Cancer” t-shirts, and players sported pink laces. “The only thing we get from [the CBCF] are the pink ribbons and the pamphlets… Everything that we pinkify we do it, and we get it done.”

Challoner said that “100 per cent” of proceeds from merchandise and events during the Think Pink week go to the CBCF.

The campaign is part of a national movement organized and facilitated by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

“Every school submits their number, and there is a check presented at the women’s basketball national championship to the Breast Cancer Foundation,” said Challoner. Although the event lasts only one week, it becomes an added source of pride for the winning women’s basketball team.

The CBCF is one of Canada’s 100 major charities, as it raised $35.7 million in 2016, $26 million of which came from the CIBC Run for the Cure. Charity intelligence reports that the CBCF uses just 30 per cent of donations for its own fundraising events.

In 2014 and 2015, for every dollar donated, over $0.50 went directly toward the cause. Over 20 years, the CBCF has raised over $360 million in donations for breast cancer research, which has played a significant role in decreasing mortality rates and increasing survival rates for cancer patients.

Through the Blues’ fundraising and fun activities throughout the Think Pink #BleedBlue campaign, Challoner stated that the ultimate “focus is really about breast cancer awareness.”

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