By Paul Rodgers
CALGARY — Fundraising events bring people together with a positive intention and are a great opportunity for artistic and musical collaboration. This May at the Last Best Brewing and Distilling, located in the former Amsterdam Rhino, Cancer Crusher 2.0 will be doing just that. A night celebrating a few motivated young Calgarians’ quest to raise funds and awareness for cancer research all centered around mixed genre musical performances and community development.
After being introduced to Joe’s Team, an organization that challenges people to go beyond their comfort zone and raises money for the Tom Baker Cancer Society, last year Zac Novak joined a sprint triathlon through the group. Similar to Movember, participants try to raise donations to meet a certain fundraising target and then compete in the triathlon.
The idea to throw Cancer Crusher came about when Novak joined friend Robbie Antle with the intent of throwing a party to raise awareness for the event in a fun and creative way. After preliminary discussions, they reached out to another mutual friend, Mike Auer, who co-runs the Facebook group Team Awesome, and has been throwing events in the city for the past couple of years.
“The year previous I had done the Shambhala pre and post parties and it was a perfect match to springboard from that into something that was more charitable and good for the community, rather than partying for no good reason,” says Auer.
The first Cancer Crusher, held at the Vagabond Brewery, was a great initial success. A crowd of nearly 200 people made it out and they wound up raising over $4,000. Zak and Robbie both completed their first triathlons after that, with Novak stating the experience was “very eye opening.” Motivated by that overall accomplishment, they began exploring the possibility of making the Cancer Crusher an annual event.
The chair of Joe’s Team then contacted them, eager to work with them to make the event bigger and better the following year. For the second edition of Cancer Crusher, the group has set a lofty target of $25,000 that they hope to raise.
“This year we’ve put a lot more legwork into it, and instead of just a party it’s more of a broader event and a broader communication to get people to think about not just this relay, and the Cancer Foundation and Joe’s team, but the theme of trying to get people to act on social impact or make a social change in their community. That’s what we’re trying to get to,” says Novak.
They have a greater team of supporters behind them, a new venue (this will also be the grand opening of the Last Best Brewery), and a diverse line-up of local musical talent including among others, hip-hop DJ Cosm, reggae/ska band The Lost Lemons and wild, comedic dance group The Manzies.
“The kind of music and entertainment we offer, you can’t find that in one night anywhere in the city and that’s what makes it so unique, along with all the other silent auction items, raffles and door prizes,” states Auer.
The silent auction will also feature a variety of different items, including a signed Wayne Gretzky jersey, experience-based items such as Stampede passes and perhaps most intriguingly – the old Amsterdam Rhino neon signs; modern relics of Calgary’s nightlife.
Novak states that he hopes to see the annual event continue to build steam, and inspire other events of a similar nature to spring up. Auer also plans to continue throwing multi-faceted, non-profit events around the city.
Auer says, “Calgary’s getting sophisticated, we’re not all about just one thing. They want to experience multiple angles to what we call entertainment, there’s more to it than standing and watching a band or a DJ play, there’s more things that could be involved in a night out experience… it’s a new thing that I think Calgary can embrace.”
Cancer Crusher 2.0 takes place at the Last Best Brewing & Distilling on May 9th.AB, Alberta, Cancer Crusher, Last Best Brewing & Distilling