Carman Collegiate Principal Mary Reimer was hit hard when she learned her colleague and teacher at the high school, Jacquie Metcalf, was diagnosed with cancer last year. She went into action, and ran a fundraiser making and selling chocolate mustaches for $2 in the cafeteria. In that two weeks, they raised $1,500 for Cancer Care Manitoba.
This summer, Reimer received her own breast cancer diagnosis.
She and Metcalf shared their stories in September's Terry Fox Run with the students. Now, she is making chocolate mustaches and selling them for a longer period of time. This year, she started in the middle of October, and made a couple more changes.
"Our goal this year was to raise $5,000, and this year instead of donating to Cancer Care Manitoba, what we'll be doing is we will be donating all of our funds to Boundary Trails Health Centre (BTHC), which is incidentally where Mrs. Metcalf and myself are both receiving lifesaving treatment. So, we've extended the length of time of our fundraiser a little bit, we've gone a little bit more public, but the response from the community has been absolutely phenomenal."
Reimer explained why they chose to support the local hospital this year.
"The care you would receive there is second to none. The staff genuinely care about every single person that comes into the room. I watch them interact. They know our first name. They know the details of our lives, the things that are important to us. Besides this cancer diagnosis, they know all of those other details that remain critical to our lives, they've done such a phenomenal job of making sure that in a moment, when life is a little bit tough, they certainly do a phenomenal job of easing our anxiety."
The mustaches come in a variety of flavours, milk, dark, Skor, Cookies and Cream, Candy Cane and more.
Reimer added, listening to the stories around her, she realized cancer is pervasive, and it's amazing how many women are getting breast cancer at all ages. Reimer went on to say, life changes, and you become an expert on things you never should be, and it revolves around the next test and treatment, which can be a frightening reality.
Monday, the local hockey team got behind the fundraiser where people could purchase mustaches to support the cause,
"Our Carman Collegiate Cougars played our annual cancer game. Instead of their Cougar Blue Jerseys, they were decked out in their pink jerseys in support of cancer research. I stopped in prior to the game, I had my picture taken with the guys and their pink jerseys, and it's my understanding that the game went very well. It was one of those games where both teams certainly understood the gravity of the cause.
Reimer, when speaking about the student support at Carman Collegiate, pointed to the guiding tenet of altruism at the school, remarking the students have really stepped up.
"I can't say enough about the maturity of the students and how they've handled the diagnosis within our building. In terms of their mustache purchases, gosh, they've certainly bought a lot of chocolate. What I can see is that our students are definitely seeing the value of what we're doing and what they're doing, and they're seeing their contributions have value. As well, they're seeing that every time they make a little purchase of $2.00, they are becoming a part of the research and the part of the solution in ending this horrible disease."
Reimer went on to call them the leaders, not only of tomorrow, but of today and although she is not able to be a leader in the school this year, to take care of her own health, she feels it is important to show her leadership in a way she can, on the side, through this fundraiser. She can't wait for the day when she can put on her Cougar Blue back on, re-enter the school, and lead.
So far, Reimer has made 4000 chocolate mustaches in many varieties of flavours. The fundraiser is running until the end of November. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to place orders for the mustaches, she is willing to deliver to the Morden-Winkler area.