Stepping into the Ring for Charity

A boxer in red on the left hits a boxer in blue on the right.

Eighteen boxers stepped into the ring, with Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation and McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation emerging victorious.

Champions for Charity is a corporate-boxing charity event presented by Mandy Bujold, a 2016 Olympian, two-time Pan Am Games gold medalist and a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist.

The inaugural event featured eighteen business professionals, each with no prior boxing experience, testing their strength and stamina by enduring 13 weeks of intense training before stepping into the ring for fight night on April 12, 2019 at The Walper Hotel in Kitchener. All matches were set according to Boxing Canada rules and regulations.

Mandy’s reason for giving back

Mandy wanted to organize a corporate-boxing charity event in Kitchener-Waterloo for years. Upon learning about Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, and the importance of donor support for Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre and McMaster Children’s Hospital specifically, she knew that The Foundation was the perfect charity for her event.

A coach gives a boxer a drink of water from a bottle.

Photo credit: Michelle Graham

Ironically, she needed the services of McMaster Children’s Hospital within days of partnering with The Foundation.

“It was 20 weeks into my pregnancy when an ultrasound revealed a potential issue with my daughter’s heart,” says Mandy. “Luckily, none of the feared complications emerged. In the end, it showed me how blessed we are to have these kinds of health care facilities so close to home and it reinforced why it was the cause to support through Champions for Charity.”

Lara’s inspiration  

Many of the Champions have personal connections to the cause. This includes Lara “El Toro” Johnson, a mother of two young children who works as part of the corporate innovation team at Communitech in Kitchener.

Lara poses for a photo while wearing blue boxing gloves.

Lara “El Toro” Johnson. Photo credit: One for the Wall

“I was eleven the first time my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer,” says Lara. “I remember she celebrated her tenth year as a survivor thinking she was in the clear, but the cancer returned a few years later. She fought for two years and never gave up, but in the end, I was forced to say goodbye to her.”

When Lara learned about Champions for Charity, she jumped at the opportunity to test her physical limits and support The Foundation.

“A big thank you to our champions for stepping up to the challenge and into the ring.”
– Mandy Bujold

“I know what it’s like to have a loved one taken too early,” she says. “Supporting The Foundation and Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre will help patients receive specialized cancer care when their lives literally depend on it.”

Matthew’s fight for his daughter

For Matthew “The General” Desmeules, the event was an opportunity to thank McMaster Children’s Hospital for providing life-altering care to his daughter Mia.

Matthew poses for a photo while wearing red boxing gloves.

Matthew “The General” Desmeules. Photo credit: One for the Wall

When Matthew’s daughter was six months old, she was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, a condition with which the structures of the skull fuse together prematurely before the brain fully grows.

“It was terrifying to see Mia undergo surgery to open and reshape her skull,” says Matthew, a commercial manager at Programmed Insurance Brokers Inc. “But thanks to McMaster Children’s Hospital, she is now a happy and healthy four-year-old.”

Participating in Champions for Charity was a phenomenal experience for Matthew.

“It meant so much to be a part of this event, which is giving back to support patients when they need it the most,” he says.

Champions raising funds

All boxers set up personal fundraising pages and were required to raise a minimum of $1,000. Thanks to the support of the boxers, event partners, sponsors and guests who came out to watch the matches, more than $161,000 was raised for Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation and McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Mandy holds a big cheque with Pearl in a boxing ring.

Mandy Bujold presents a cheque for $160,000 to Pearl Veenema, the President and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation. Photo credit: Reid McIver

“A huge thank you to our partners and sponsors,” says Mandy, “and a big thank you to our champions for stepping up to the challenge and into the ring. It takes a lot of courage to step through those ropes and I applaud them for their commitment, discipline and determination.”

To learn more about Champions for Charity, visit hamiltonhealth.ca/championsforcharity