Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is a POGO? (and what does it have to do with The Death Race??)

POGO is the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario. In plain English, it is an organization that helps kids with cancer. While the health care system covers cancer treatment, these children and their families must often travel great distances, at enormous personal expense, for the required care. On POGO's website, it states that they work to "deliver the right care at the right time and in the right place for children with cancer and their families." Elaborating, they continue, "Through healthcare innovation, survivor care, financial assistance for families, population data, policy development, research and education, POGO has created a highly integrated and seamless pediatric cancer system that supports children and families throughout the spectrum of illness, recovery and survivorship."

Ok, but what does that have to do with The Death Race?? When I was originally interviewed about my participation in this insane event, I was asked the inevitable "why are you doing this" question. I replied that I was committed to living my life fully, embracing new experiences and challenges every chance I got. My exact words were "I don't want to be dead at 40 but buried at 80". I often think we put too much emphasis on making life longer instead of thoroughly seizing it for however long we are lucky enough to be here.

Recently, a great friend suggested I harness the publicity around The Death Race to benefit a children's cancer charity. OF COURSE! While an adult can certainly be held responsible to a large degree for the quality of their life, or lack thereof, a child with a cancer diagnosis has not been given that same chance yet. And when their life becomes an all-encompassing ordeal of treatment and travel, they deserve all the help they can get.

POGO provides this assistance in several ways. There is financial and personal support available for families. There are education programs. There are also satellite treatment centers around the province. Right here in Orillia, Soldiers Memorial Hospital has a pediatric oncology program where children can receive treatment without travelling all the way to Toronto. In fact, through the generosity of The Kiwanis Club of Orillia, there is even a high-speed imaging link allowing a doctor in Toronto to assess a pediatric patient in Orillia, remotely in real time.

So, I am very excited to be working with POGO to raise funds and awareness for their program. Please take the time to visit the link above. And very soon I will be posting a link at the top of this blog page, allowing you to make an easy online donation. Whether it is $10, $50, $100 or $1000 you will be making a tangible difference in the lives of children in our community, at a time when they need it the most.

Here is a quotation for local pediatricial, Dr. Alan Hudak,
  • "I became involved with POGO more than 13 years ago around the development of the POGO Satellite Program. It may seem obvious now that children with cancer in our community can be cared for close to home, that the teams of professionals caring for them are appropriately trained and supported, and that these teams are communicating with the children’s hospital that provided the original diagnosis and treatment – but that was not always the case. This is an example of the forward thinking that POGO embraces."

Thanks for reading. My POGO donation link will appear here within a day or two - please check back! This blog will also feature occasional updates on my training, fundraising and news about the race.   :)

P.S. Peak Races, the organizer of The Death Race, has coincidentally partnered with an American Pediatric Cancer campaign. Their more recreational race series, The Spartan Race, is raising money for "Be Brave" ... here is their video, that will give you some idea what I am doing. At the end of this video, 7 year old Max says "I just want to say to all the kids out there who have boo boos like me, that I hope they get better and they just get treated good and be alive for the rest of their lives." I like Max's philosophy and that is what I am committed to as well!!


  1. Hello, Just thought I'd write and let you know I have really been missing your blog posts. You're an awesome writer and have REALLY provided a lot of great information and motivation for myself and my husband. I hope all is well and you can find some time to write again soon!

  2. Thank you Heather Anne. I am getting back at it today! (And your message ensured that I do)
    The past two weeks have been wonderfully busy - lots of wrestling coaching and a hiking (mis)adventure that I will blog about. All is good though, and I am back at it :)