Oak Bay High students were rewarded for their giving attitude.
For the third year in a row, the Youth in Philanthropy Award went to Oak Bay High for extraordinary fundraising efforts.
Each year, National Philanthropy Day recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations in the community that are making a difference in the lives of others.
By “changing the world with a giving heart,” the Oak Bay High 2010 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock fundraising team, led by Carli Swift and Emily Koide, were honoured at a celebration at the Fairmont Empress Hotel Nov. 7.
This is the first year a particular fundraiser has been acknowledged.
“The group last year raised an unreal amount,” said teacher-sponsor Chad Jacques. “This one-off effort was absolutely amazing. A bunch of them came in two weeks before school started in August to get started.”
Jacques said the fundraising team had a short timeline to raise funds for Cops for Cancer.
“It was just the timing, the way the school year started, they had two-and-a-half weeks to raise funds. Usually they have three-and-a-half, maybe four weeks. They just said ‘OK, these are the cards we were dealt, let’s work with what we were given.’ They used that as a rallying point to encourage, rather than say, ‘OK, let’s just pack up and give in,’” he said.
Jacques put that effort into one word: passion.
“Carli and Emily reinforced why we do this to the other kids. It’s not just to raise money or to get your name in the newspaper,” he said.
“The amount raised was a huge increase over last year. We are very, very fortunate. The money raised is just a reflection of their efficiency and resolve. It’s reflected in the numbers they’re able to raise in the community.” The group topped 2009’s donation of $25,000 by $18,000 to raise a total of $43,000. “That’s a huge jump. It’s just mind-blowing,” said Jacques. This year’s fundraising team learned by their example and raised $45,000 for the 2011 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team.
“In Grade 11, I got involved because it was such a big thing in our school,” said Swift. “I joined the Youth Against Cancer club. I just thought I could help.” It was through volunteering at Oak Bay High that Swift and Koide met.
“Carli and I make a really great pair for lots of reasons,” said Koide, now a student at Dalhousie University. “We have our similarities and our differences. We both have the same priorities and work ethic. We don’t agree on everything but neither of us is afraid to tell the other when they’re wrong and we’ve gotten very good at coming to reasonable compromises.
“Mostly we’re a great partnership because we have fun together,” Koide added.
The two were elected for the position of leaders by their peers.
“Emily’s older sister (Jenny Koide) ran it the year before, but we both went into it knowing we weren’t going to do anything else in September,” said Swift, who is preparing to become a teacher at the University of Victoria.
She took time off of work and both girls suspended other extra curricular activities in order to devote all of their spare time to the project.
“I was alway nervous about the tight timeline because of the large amount of activities that we planned to fit into only three weeks,” Koide said. “However, we worked hard in the months leading up to the campaign preparing everything that we could, so it would be a lot less stressful.”
The team’s goal was to reach $18,000 by the time the riders arrived at the school, near the end of the tour.
“We had a head shave and a silent auction and we knew we were past our goal, then all of the group leaders, including ourselves, were cut off. No one but the three girls who were on the financial team knew how much we had raised. We knew we beat the year before, but not by how much,” Swift said.
“I’ve never had pins and needles before, it was the weirdest feeling,” she said, describing how she felt when she saw the total. “I was shaking, it was absolutely ridiculous.”
Both girls attribute some of their success to their visit to Camp Goodtimes during the summer.
“Camp Goodtimes was absolutely unbelievable,” said Koide. “I would say going there made a big difference in the campaign. Our motto was ‘It’s for the kids’ and whenever I got stressed out, I would just think about the smiles on the campers’ faces. It makes such a difference if you’re going into the campaign wanting to raise the money to make a difference in the lives of as many kids as possible as opposed to wanting to beat another school or something.”
“Getting the award is great,” said Swift. “Being singled out is not so much. We always tried to avoid doing anything that was about the two of us. There were 28 group leaders that led various events. Obviously we could not have done this on our own without the whole school behind us.”
“Also the campaign would not have been remotely as successful without the great amount of participation from the school and community,” added Koide.