As students spent time adjusting to the new semester, the week of Jan. 8 was also the beginning of one of McMaster Athletics’ most highly anticipated events. Athletes from different sports brought out their pink accessories for Think Pink, a week-long fundraiser in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.
Think Pink started as an initiative by the University of Waterloo’s women’s basketball team. Over the last seven years, it has expanded to include multiple varsity teams who host recreational activities and other fundraising events for the entire Canadian university community.
For McMaster, the initiative is spearheaded by Mac Athletes Care, a group of student-athletes from a variety of varsity teams who connect with young people through sport on a weekly basis. For the week of Jan. 8 however, they traded their mentoring obligations in for fundraising efforts to join other Canadian university programs.
The team started off the week with their “Photo Booth Kick-Off”, which occurred alongside McMaster’s Athletics and Recreation partner Royal Bank of Canada’s “Someday Wish” wall where students could write on to enter in a draw to win $1,000.
For “Toonie Tuesday”, a variety of activities took place, each costing. Games included a 100 square where students could pick a number and win one of four different gift cards and a couple of candy jar guesses. These games could also be enjoyed with cookies sold by the fundraising team. This was followed up by a fan favourite: throwing pies in coaches’ and support staff’s faces on Jan. 10.
Unfortunately, Jan 18 “Dodge For A Cause” was unable to run due to the lack of participants but a Jan. 19 Fun-Fair and donation and raffle booths at the volleyball and basketball games this past weekend rounded up the week’s festivities to end on a high note.
Leading Mac Athletes Care as head coordinator for Think Pink is fourth-year computer engineering student and women’s rugby player Mackenzie Weins. While Weins has spent the last four years volunteering for the program, this was her first year in charge as the program coordinator.
“During last year’s Think Pink, I spent the whole weekend with former coordinator Gabriel Ghiglione and really loved it,” said Weins. “I remember telling Nicole, the school’s CBCAF liaison, ‘Don’t put anyone else down! I’m running Think Pink’,” said Weins. “So I started compiling ideas and sending them to her and she would be like ‘Okay [Mackenzie] you got it!’ and with her support it has been running really smooth ever since.”
Weins came into the week having experience working in event planning with the City of Niagara, special events and assisting with logistical planning for the women’s rugby team, so she was more than prepared to lead her team.
For Weins being able to give back through Mac Athletes Care is an experience like no other.
“The Living Rock, the first place I volunteered, gave me an opportunity to meet people completely different from myself, which really made me aware of the privilege I have being not just a university student, but a student-athlete” said Weins.
Being able to support The Living Rock or the CBCAF to help give to people in need is an opportunity that Weins does not take for granted.
“What [the CBCAF] offers to women and their families is really incredible,” said Weins. “So to be able to be as fortunate as we are as student-athletes with the opportunities that we’ve been given, the least we can do is support such an awesome cause.”
“I know for me, sport has been something that has kept me grounded and confident to live my life and to go for it, so I attack fundraising the same way I attack rugby,” Weins added. “I tell everybody I’m the least talented person on the team but because I look at film, I go to every practice and I work out, it makes up for it. I’ve actually had the privilege to start for the last two years.”
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Tackling the Think Pink campaign with the same intensity as she tackles rugby preparation has helped her lead Mac Athletes Care to raise approximately $10,000 for the cause.
Also in support of the cause, the basketball and volleyball teams wore “Just Cure It” t-shirts and used pink tape during their games this weekend. Both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams were able to win their Friday game against the Brock University Badgers and the University of Windsor Lancers on Saturday.
Another big win from the Think Pink weekend came from the women’s basketball team, who defeated the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks 81-59 to give them a four-game winning streak. Unfortunately the men’s basketball team was unable to keep up with the Golden Hawks and trailed throughout the game, losing 79-64 to leave them at a disappointing 2-12 record.
Overall the successful weekend was just one of many great initiatives run by Mac Athletes Care that gets student-athletes involved in the Hamilton community. Giving them an opportunity to use the skills they learn in their respective sports and the platform varsity athletics give them and apply them to help others in need.