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Team Schvesters once again among Cancercare Manitoba Foundation Challenge for Life top fundraisers

By MYRON LOVE With Covid seemingly in the rear view mirror, the 16th annual Cancercare Manitoba Foundation Challenge for Life 20KM walk (or 200-minute workout) is back again at itas pre-Covid time of year – June 3 this year – and location at Assiniboine Park. Once again, teams dominated or led by members of our Jewish community are among the top fundraisers.
Over the years, Benji Harvey, one of the “Greenfeld girls”, has consistently proven herself to be one of the event’s star fundraisers – and this year is no different. Thus far – as of May 8 – the prolific fundraiser has personally raised just over $12,000 – exceeding the amount she raised last year. Only two other participants in the event have raised more so far this year.
And, her “Team Schvesters” – including her sisters, Lesly Katz and Debby Lewis, along with Kim Gray, Jodi van de Visjel and- for the first time, Senior Provincial Court Judge Rocky Pollack – has already reached its goal of $16,000.

The team was founded by the three sisters after two of the sisters had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Team Schvesters has been participating in the Cancercare event since the beginning .
Pollack has participated in the Challenge for Life for the last several years as well. His wife, Sharon, fought cancer for 14 years before her passing in 2012. During the time that she was ill, both Sharon and Rocky came to appreciate the care that she received from CancerCare Manitoba and they both became actively involved in the organization and the foundation. Pollack has served in a number of positions with the organization over the years.

In fifth place among team fundraisers this year is another “Jewish” team, “Nancy’s Nightingales” – consisting of longtime friends Louise Raber, Joanne Katz, Rhonda Youell, Connie Botelho, Susan Lipnowski, Heather Cram and Harriet Lyons. The team had raised just over $5,939 as of May 4..
Nancy’s Nightingales team has consistently been among the top fund-raising teams over the last 16 years, ever since the inception of the “Challenge for Life.”
The Nightingales were named after a nurse , a cancer survivor- who is a friend of Louise Raber. This year the team will participate in the Virtual Walk over 2 days during the week of May 27 to June 3, attending the opening and closing ceremonies on June 3.

Nancy’s Nightingales (2022 photo)
(Back row left-right): Rhonda Youell, Susan Lipnowski, Harriet Lyons, Louise Raber, Heather Cram
(Front left to right): Joanne Katz, Connie Botelho

“Jason’s Journey,” a team led by Jason Gisser, is ranked sixth in monies raised to date –standing at $5,692 as of May 4. “Our goal this year is to raise $11,000,” says the son of David Gisser and Freda Steel.
Gisser himself has already received donations adding up to $4.368 and is aiming to reach $6,000. His team members include Marie-Elyse Badeau, Matthew Maruca, Wendy Martin White and Nora Fien.
The still relatively young lawyer has experienced a more intimate and longer-lasting relationship with cancer than many of the other Challenge for Life participants. He was first diagnosed with cancer when he was 18. The still young lawyer has been fighting cancer for more than half his life now. Happily, an oral chemotherapy pill he has been taking for the past few years has controlled his cancer and allowed him to return to living a normal life.
He first took up the Challenge in 2019 as a way to give back for all the help that he has received over the years from CancerCare Manitoba staff. This year, thus far, he has personally brought in over $5,400 – the fifth most among individual entrants – while his team – has raised over $8,000.
“I personally am aiming to raise $6,000.” He notes.
Gisser will be out of town on June 3 so will not be participating in the main event. He is planning to do the 20km walk a week before on Sunday, May 28 within the Challenge for Life event period of May 27-June 3. The day before, he will be walking 5km accompanied by family members and supporters.

Jason’s Journey
(left-right): Nora Fien, Jason Gisser, Matthew Maruca, Wendy Martin White (Missing: Marie-Elyse Badeau)

Sister Act
(left-right): Brenda Dahle, 89-year-old Pearl Rosenberg, & Cindy Yusim

The oldest participant in the Challenge once again is 89-year-old Pearl Rosenberg who, with her daughters, Cindy Yusim and Brenda Dahle – qnd joined this year by her granddaughter, Lexi Palansky – comprise “Sister Act.”
Rosenberg lost two daughters to cancer within about a year of each other. Naomi Palansky – Lexi’s mother – passed away in 2010 and Michelle Moyer in 2011. Brenda Dahle notes that Naomi walked with her family in the first Challenge For Life Walk.
(And readers may recall that Naomi’s children, Noah and Lexi, started their own team of walkers, “Kids Count”) shortly after their mother received her cancer diagnosis.)
“I started taking part in the Challenge for Life on Team Chai in 2008,” Dahle says. “My mom, my sister Cindy, and I walk in memory of our sisters whose love, strength, and courage continue to inspire us.” Dahle reports that her mother’s walk will be incorporated into her daily walks in Kildonan Park – doing the 20km in increments of 3-5 km a day. Dahle is training at the Wellness Centre while Yusim is working out at the Rady JCC.
“We hope to raise at least $2,500,” Dahle says.

Perennial fundraising dynamo Cathy Moser is also back for her 16thy campaign. The founder of “Serratus Superstars” says she started accepting the Challenge for Life when it was 60 km over two days – in honor of her mother, who passed away from Pancreatic Cancer.
“I saw the ‘good’ that the Cancercare Foundation did when I took my mother there in 2006.” she says. “The Cancercare Foundation does make a difference in our lives – and we have all been ‘touched’ by cancer. The Foundation ameliorates the trauma by providing coffee, cookies and entertainment to people anxiously awaiting blood test results in the Foundation Waiting Room. It cuts down our waiting time for some procedures by purchasing equipment, and it keeps us in the loop of new research and drug trials.”

Serratus Superstars

Over the years, Moser and her teammates have raised over $450,000.00.  Moser is still looking to recruit more team members. Interested readers can email her at cathy.g.moser@gmail.com.
Readers can make donations to their preferred team by going online to Challenge for Life.

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