The Essex Lease Golf Classic is creating positive change for children with cancer — one chip, one putt, one birdie at a time. Now in its third year, the annual tournament has raised more than $300,000 for Kids Cancer Care, which translates into about 200 kids going to summer camp.
And the good news? They’re just getting started.
“During our first year of involvement, we went in thinking that Kids Cancer Care is there for the kids after visiting Camp Kindle,” says Ross Sten, Chief Executive Officer of Essex Lease Financial. “Then we realized that camp is really the tip of a massive iceberg of programs and services they offer. Kids Cancer Care offers so much more — not only for the kids but for the families facing this terrible disease. And when you hear from the kids themselves, you know you’re making an impact and that drives us even harder to make the tournament a success.”
With 152 golfers, 24 volunteers, and 93 sponsors and silent auction donors, the 2023 tournament was by all accounts a huge success. It raised $140,280, doubling its revenue in three years.
To raise the stakes in 2023, Ross spearheaded the idea of a massive 50/50 raffle, involving six Can Do fundraising partners of Kids Cancer Care. Instead of running several small 50/50s, Ross imagined a gigantic 50/50 where all the fundraising partners would collaborate to promote the raffle and sell tickets at their events. We called it the MEGA 50/50 and it was truly a win, not just for the kids, but also for the lucky Calgarian who held the winning ticket.
Essex Lease creates win-win partnerships in both play and work. The company offers equipment financing, asset-based lending, equipment rentals, and insurance to businesses. Essex prides itself on looking beyond the numbers and turning to character and trust to build long-term winning partnerships with clients.
Fortunately, Essex also takes a win-win approach to its CSR partnerships. CSR refers to a company’s commitment to environmental, ethical, philanthropic, and economic responsibility.
Christine McIver, Founder and CEO of Kids Cancer Care, agrees: “Essex isn’t interested in a flash-in-the-pan success. They’re in it for the long haul. They care about the children and families we serve, and they’re partnering to create an outstanding annual golf tournament that generates a consistent source of funding for our programs. We welcome the opportunity to partner with visionary leaders like Ross who help drive the economy while building a stronger community through collaboration.”
Ryane Nethery, a Kids Cancer Care spokeskid, shared her cancer story at the tournament dinner. Diagnosed with cancer at age three, Ryane grew up going to Kids Cancer Care programs.
“Going to Camp Kindle gave me a sense of a normal childhood,” said Ryane. “I didn’t have to worry about being on treatment and having no hair. I didn’t have to worry about being bullied or what people might say when I told them I had cancer. Camp allowed me to be a kid and make friends with other kids who were similar to me. I can remember coming home countless times with a smile that hurt my cheeks, being so excited to tell my parents about my time at camp.”
While the chemotherapy left Ryane with a serious heart condition and a learning disability, she considers herself one of the lucky ones. With a lot of hard work and the help of a Kids Cancer Care tutor, Ryane graduated from high school — with an 81% average. After receiving a Kids Cancer Care Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship, Ryane studied at Mount Royal University and later SAIT. Today, she is working as a pharmacy assistant with Alberta Health Services.
“I have learned many important lessons through Kids Cancer Care,” said Ryane. “I cannot thank them enough for the difference they not only made in my life but in my family’s life. One of the mottos I still live by today is: ‘Cancer may have started this fight, but I’m finishing it.’”
With the support of Essex and its partners, Kids Cancer Care is able to help young people like Ryane build the skills and resilience they need to fight cancer from a place of strength and courage.
“I can’t say enough about what Kids Cancer Care does for these families,” says Ross. “They are there when the child is diagnosed and when the child needs a tutor or exercise therapist to return to life outside the hospital. They’re there for the family when a child dies. Cancer isn’t over when the treatments stop, and Kids Cancer Care understands that. This is the kind of long-standing support we can get behind at Essex. I am extremely thankful to Essex staff, the sponsors, and Kids Cancer Care for what they are doing to make a difference for so many families.”