THUNDER BAY - The curling tournament that started its first year by raising more than seven times the original goal to fight breast cancer continues to grow and the family of Linda Buchan, the woman who started it all, still share her passion and positivity out on the ice 20 years later and are more than willing to keep the fight going for as long as it takes.
“I hope it goes on for a long time,” said Sydney Buchan, Linda’s granddaughter. “I would be willing to step into the committee if I’m needed to.”
Sydney was just one of more than 200 women who participated in the 23rd Annual Bearskin Hope Classic this weekend.
After all the rocks were thrown, the ice swept clean, and plenty of laughs and memories on and off the sheet, the grand total of $123,000 raised this year was announced during the closing ceremonies on Sunday at the Fort William Curling Club.
“It was another wonderful year,” said Sue Childs, chair of the organizing committee. “The women got together, we had lots of fun, we raised a lot of money and the family is growing.”
In its 23 years, the annual bonspiel has raised more than $3.27 million, whichgoes toward breast cancer research and the Linda Buchan Centre.
“The reason why we are doing it is because all the money raised stays right here in Thunder Bay and that’s what Linda wanted,” Childs said.
Childs once again earned the title of top fundraiser, bringing in more than $13,000, while her team raised more than $60,000.
“It honestly makes me feel great and knowing it all goes to my grandmother’s centre,” Sydney said, who was part of Childs’ team. “To raise so much money for the centre and to help so much women fight breast cancer is awesome.”
The Bearskin Hope Classic was started by Linda Buchan and Barb Crooks in 1997 and had a goal of raising $5,000 in its inaugural year but ended up bringing in more than $39,000.
The Linda Buchan Centre was named in honour of Linda who passed away from cancer in 2002.
“Linda was a very positive, upbeat person,” Childs said. “She never complained about anything. She was energetic and she was passionate about everything she did. And we think the women are being the same way.”
“It would probably be mind blowing to her knowing we’ve come so far,” Sydney added.
And while the money raised goes toward assisting women fighting breast cancer in Northwestern Ontario, the Hope Classic is also about getting together with old friends to carry on Linda’s passion.
“It’s all about friendship and people renewing and acquaintances from the year before,” Childs said. “It’s all just a bunch of fun.”
“We definitely do have fun,” Sydney said. “The costumes are great, everyone is laughing on the ice. It’s not about winning, it’s just about being with this group of girls.”