The Sweater Kittens didn’t just come together out of the blue. Some are survivors of breast cancer. Others are there to stand beside or in memory of friends and family who have fought cancer. The ladies of the Sweater Kittens formed a team that has changed and strengthened over the years into an incredible force. Each year, the team does the two day walk in Vancouver as a part of the weekend to end cancer event. This year will be no different.
The walk is on August 13 and 14, 2011. The group has the yearly challenge to raise $2000 each as their entry fee to join the walk. It is something the group attacks with gusto and something they have turned into a story of success, winter time fun and hope.
The whole “litter” of Sweater Kittens is made up of Stephanie Wagner, Jayne Baggott, Szilvia Devereaux, Mardi Hassell, Barbara Jones, Kelsey Keglovic, Rhonda Kirkness, Colleen Laferriere, Vickie Marr, Kasia Mikulski, Felicia Northway, Sarah Perrie, Jeannie Walker. These ladies have become an inspiration to others. Their zest for life is evident in their willpower to do the annual walk and their Snow Golf tournament that has become more than they ever imagined it would be.
“We did very well again,” said kitten Mardi Hassell. “This year was absolutely our best year. We had the most people and they were an incredibly diverse group. We had a stag party who saw the snow golf tournament on the website and wanted to come. They had a great time and said that they would definitely be back.”
The stag party turned out to be more than just participants. “You just never know who is in the crowd and what might happen,” stated Hassell. One of the guys from the stag party said “I am with a group of massage therapists and we would like to work with your group.” They specialize in post-mastectomy massage and rehabilitation. “When we walk there is a massage therapist there,” Hassell said, “but not everybody can get a massage after we walk. Especially when you get a group as big as ours coming in all at once, so we asked them to come give us massages then. We exchanged phone numbers and will see what happens. I think it is a really cool relationship that has come about.”
The Sweater Kittens are always grateful of the turn-out at the event. Hassell said that the fun day always touches their hearts. “Unless you are there and see what is happening you don’t really understand the scope of the whole event. It surprises me every year the people who jump up and say count me in I’m with you a 110 per cent.”
The event always brings someone new into the fold and always has a personal side to it. “John Peccia is someone that my husband was doing some work for,” said Hassell and I asked him if he would be interested in sponsoring a hole and emailed him the sponsorship information. John lost his long time assistant to cancer last year and was more than pleased to be our event sponsor through his company Pacific Quorum out of Vancouver rather than a sponsor for a hole. He was affected by cancer in a very personal way and sponsoring the event was what he could do.” This was definitely one of our best years.
Every year everybody has a ton of energy for this event, before, during and after. It takes a lot of planning to pull it together and the day is a long one from early morning until late into the night for some,” Hassell said. We are lucky to have Tulameen as our venue. Tulameen is a very unique place. Where else can you actually golf in the streets?”
Hassell said the kittens “really want to let everyone know that when we go down to the walk we bring the messages left for us on the “Tree of Hope. We think about all the people who help and continue to be incredibly supportive of us and we are truly thankful. The success of our fundraising efforts relies on the generosity of so many people it is hard to put it into words. We just want to let everyone know how much it means to all of us.”