Okanagan rugby community raises funds for cancer services

The first ever fundraiser held on Sunday raised $14,000

Rugby players of all ages gathered together at the Apple Bowl on Sunday, Sept. 23. Their goal was not to participate in anything involving an oval ball. Instead, they turned their focus to an activity in support of local cancer services at the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Center.

The ‘80 Minutes’ event was named after the duration of an adult rugby XVs game. For 80 minutes, 82 players, coaches, referees, and rugby fans walked or ran around the new track at the Apple Bowl, each supported by friends and family who donated money to support the participants. With such songs as ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ blasting from the speakers, the local rugby community enjoyed 80 minutes of continuous exercise together, while raising just over $14,000 to support the local cancer center.

The idea for the 80 Minutes event came from Cam Pierce, a professional rugby player in France who grew up in Vernon and played for the Kelowna Crows. His mom, Susan was overwhelmed with the quality of service at the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Center and wanted to do something to recognize them. Pierce presented the idea to the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts (CORE) Board of Directors, and the event was born.

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“We liked the idea of our whole rugby community doing something together,” said Doug Manning, president of CORE. “Rugby is a team sport. We get the value of a team or community working together to make good things happen. We are very pleased with the results of the 80 Minutes fundraiser.”

“This event has reminded me of why I fell in love with the sport 10 years ago with the Crows,” said Pierce. “Rugby offers a sense of belonging to something that is much bigger than any individual. To see numerous Okanagan teams and rugby fans of all ages, men and woman, participate towards a common goal has been extremely refreshing.”

The 80 Minutes fundraiser in 2018 is the first of what is planned to be an annual event. Manning says CORE has many ideas for attracting even more participants in future years.

“When you see 80 people spread out on a quarter-mile track, you realize how many more people could participate in this 80 Minutes initiative. It is our goal to get 200 rugby enthusiasts out there next year.”

Pierce expressed his great pride in the local rugby community for embracing this fund-raiser.

“I’d like to thank my Mom for being the inspiration behind 80 Minutes. She truly is the strongest woman I know. We definitely rucked cancer this Sunday and it feels awesome.”

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