Fans should expect to see Alumni Field filled with garnet, gold and purple this Saturday. The Mount Allison football team is playing Acadia for the chance to gain a playoff spot, but to also show their support of those affected by pancreatic cancer.
Matt Zwicker, a Mt. A alumnus and former football player for the Mounties, founded the #TacklePancreaticCancer movement in 2017 with hopes to raise much-needed funding and awareness for pancreatic cancer. Zwicker chose to focus on pancreatic cancer after his father, Darren, was diagnosed in early 2017.
“My dad was a young, active, and all-around healthy man prior to his diagnosis,” Zwicker wrote. “After his diagnosis, I had the unfortunate experience of learning more about pancreatic cancer, the lack of treatment options and overall low standard of care.” When his father was first diagnosed, there was only one doctor in Atlantic Canada who performed pancreatic surgeries.
Learning that pancreatic cancer has a fatality rate of over 93 per cent in Canada did not sit well with Zwicker. That is when he chose to volunteer with Craig’s Cause. Craig’s Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society was formed in 2006 after Craig Schurman Condon passed away, at the age of 63, eight weeks from diagnosis. The society has raised over $1.5 million for awareness, education, support and research since then. “They embraced me immediately, and ultimately offered me a platform to host this event,” Zwicker said. “Without Craig’s Cause, this event truly would not be possible.”
Peter Fraser, head coach of the Mounties football team, embraced the event with open arms. “Everybody has been touched by some form of cancer throughout their lives,” he said. “If you haven’t, you probably will be at some point, for better or for worse.”
Edwin Booth, Griffin Quigley, Graeme Stevens and Nick Wenman are players on the football team who have stepped up to help lead this fundraiser. “We needed people on the ground here getting the posters out, helping organize everything prior to Matt getting here later in the week,” Fraser said. “So, they stepped up and are taking the reins.”
Lindsay Wray, the president of Health Care Outreach, said, “Hopefully, a lot of awareness is raised, and a lot of money as well. All the money raised goes directly to research.” Wray said the goal of the event is to raise awareness and show support for those living with pancreatic cancer. Health Care Outreach will be selling 50/50 tickets, and the proceeds will go directly to pancreatic cancer research, patient support and awareness and education.
Though only in its second year, the #TacklePancreaticCancer game has expanded to Bishop’s University as well. “With more teams on board, this event looks to be a catalyst for change in the world of pancreatic cancer,” Zwicker said.
Fraser said the team plans to host the event annually: “If [Craig’s Cause] still wants to partner with us, then we are still all about doing it every year.”