Those of you, who know Deb and I, are aware we work with CAN fund (Canadian Athletes Now Fund) in support of our Canadian Olympic Athletes. We have hosted four events and through the generosity of our friends and supporters, raised enough money to help close to 40 athletes, who use the money to live, eat and train. Every person who attends one of our events knows the recipient of monetary assistance from CAN fund. There’s nothing more exhilarating than watching an athlete you and friends have helped; win a medal for Canada. It’s truly inspiring and motivational. And even better, everyone feels a part of it in their own small way.
The lack of funding is altogether another issue I will expound about at later date. The blog today is a celebration or a “feel-good” moment for all who have supported our athletes and us.
Rosie Maclennan was elected to be the flag bearer for the Rio Olympics and will lead our 313 athletes into the opening ceremonies in a few weeks. Rosie has a special place in our hearts because she was the reason we got involved with CANfund in the first place. Her father (John) was a friend of mine and over a celebration drink after Rosie’s 2012 Gold Medal victory in London, I learned of the hardships and lack of funding our athletes endure. I went home that night and said to Deb, we have to raise some money to help Rosie defend her title in Rio.
We decided to host an event at our place with CAN fund and during the initial meeting as we walked around with Rosie strategizing a plan for the event in her honour, she turned to Deb and I, “Deb, Mike you have no idea how much I appreciate what you are planning to do for me, but I know of fellow athletes going to Sochi (2014) and they really need help, would you mind if I shared the money with some of them?”
Deb and I looked at each other in utter amazement at the selfless gesture of this at the time 23-year- old elite athlete. The more familiar we became with the athletes, that refreshing attitude was prevalent in all of them. But it was Rosie who set the bar, always willing to lend a hand or support for anything we have done since the first event and so has every athlete we have come in contact with as well.
I have always said that we are given far too much credit for what we do, because without the wonderful support we receive, there would be no funding for our athletes. We are just the hosts.
Jane Roos and her ex-Olympian husband Conrad Leinemann who started CAN fund are the real heroes, having raised $22 million over the last 10 years. Their endless energy and “never quit” attitude exemplifies that Canadian mantra to a “T” and after yesterdays announcement they must be just glowing with happiness for Rosie whom they have helped over the years. Take a bow Jane and Conrad you deserve it.
Let’s of course not forget our marvelous Canadian Athletes who represent us on the world stage with such class, dignity and honour. They just want to make us proud.
I must admit selfishly welling up with emotion at our very small role, watching the ceremony yesterday announcing Rosie as the flag-bearer. Deb and I looked at each other and didn’t have to say a word because we were both feeling that same sense of Canadians should be extremely proud of this young lady leading our athletes into the games because not only is she an elite athlete but also more importantly represents everything right about sports. And what could be more Canadian than that.