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Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic

"The Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic" is a curling bonspiel for women, which raises money to fight Breast Cancer. Bearskin Airlines has been the title sponsor of this event since its inception.

In 1996, Barb Crooks, a breast cancer survivor, approached Linda Buchan, who had just recently undergone breast cancer treatment, about starting a bonspiel to raise money for the Breast Cancer Support Group.

2013 Hope Classic
Cheque Presentation - Left to Right - Sue Childs, Susan Childs, Liz Manahan, Erin Manahan, Judy Gerry, Cliff Friessen, Dave Knudson, Mary Wheatley, Barb Whitney

The organizing committee worked on planning the bonspiel for just over a year and in 1997 the first annual Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic was held. Linda Buchan approached Cliff Friesen, of Bearskin Airlines about supporting the committee in this endeavour. Cliff's own daughter, Tammy Salidas, had also just undergone breast cancer surgery and treatment. Cliff was supportive from Linda's first meeting with him, and from that point on the committee has never looked back. The bonspiel is probably one of the most popular bonspiels in Thunder Bay for women curlers and the best part of the bonspiel is that all money raised stays in Northwestern Ontario. All money is donated to the Northern Cancer Research Foundation for breast cancer research.

The organizing committee lost its founder and chair, Linda Buchan, on December 11, 2002, just before the 7th Annual Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic. The 7th annual Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic was a little special and a little different ­ special because it was the year that we passed the $500,000.00 raised and different because we were missing the person that started the dream. The committee, however, carried on Linda's dream.

The 18th Annual Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic wrapped up at the Fort William Curling Club on Sunday February 9, 2014, raising $151,000 this year for a total of $2,554,000 and counting!

Some of the areas where the money raised has been used are:

  • Hiring of research scientists
  • Dual Purpose CT Scanner
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Unit
  • Women's Imaging Centre in the Port Arthur Health Centre
  • Individualized Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer Patients Project
  • Project on patient Immune System
  • Cell Sort
  • Breast Cancer Support Group
  • A portion to the Lymphodema Pilot Project.

Linda never wanted the Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic to be about her. She wanted it to be about "making a difference to the lives of women in Northwestern Ontario." Well, a difference has been made and her dream will continue.

Get on board with Bearskin Airlines to support this very worthy event next year. For further information, contact Sue Childs, at 807 627-0444 or at 807 983-2501 or through email at hopeclassic@shaw.ca

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