The Waterboys: a winning fundraising formula for cancer research

Peter Schryburt is a father of three, a former army brat, a retired public servant, and a 73-year-old prostate cancer survivor. As an athlete and a father who mourns the passing of his eldest son, Corey, Schryburt runs with the Scotiabank Charity Challenge team, The Waterboys.

Schryburt ’s son Corey, passed away 3 years ago at the age of 30, having just had a daughter and been married for only 3 years. A heartbreaking loss to friends and family. Ian Redpath, Corey’s best friend and best man, entered the team in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Scotiabank Charity Challenge in Corey’s memory in 2017 just after his passing so those who were mourning could come together and contribute to cancer research and prevention through the Canadian Cancer Society

Many who knew and miss Corey have participated over the last three years. “The first year we raised $11,000, some people walked, and others ran,” says Schryburt. 

“I’m not a marathoner, I am in it for fundraising and awareness-raising. I lost my father and two siblings, only one of four siblings did not get cancer. I don’t even like to say that I had cancer since I was fortunate to have surgery where all cancer tissue was removed and no further treatment was needed, unlike so many members of my family, who had to have chemo and radiation and years of struggle. Now it is in my family. We lost Corey and then a year later, in 2018, Sarah, Corey’s sister, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is undergoing chemotherapy now and it takes a lot out of her, but she still plans to participate this year,” shares Schryburt.

Schryburt loves sports and passed on this love to his sons, Corey and Jeremy. They played fantasy hockey pools and Corey always named his team ‘The Waterboys‘, after one of Corey’s favourite movies. Jeremy and their dad have maintained Corey’s fantasy teams (including the Waterboys in hockey pools) and connect with his friends and loved ones through the race weekend. 

“I am very concerned about the amount of undiagnosed and untreated cancer during the pandemic. It’s also really awkward to talk about deeply personal issues over the phone or video and I imagine lots of people are avoiding it or putting it off. Cancer treatment and funding is going to have increased need over the next years.”

The team’s goal is ambitious: $10,000. Please donate if you are able. “We have lost some participants since the first year. Now with the race going virtual, some people are less connected to each other. Some people haven’t started fundraising yet but are registered on the team. A few are just getting started now.”

Since the family members each fundraise, they divide up who canvasses whom. “We keep to our age group and try to avoid asking the same 25 family members multiple times.” Schryburt is an early-bird fundraiser. His formula has worked for him this past three years and does not take too much effort, but success does take time and caring connections. After a long career with Canada Revenue Agency and many friendships, he feels blessed to have the support of his peers and loved ones when he asks each year. 

Here is Schryburt’s fundraising plan:

  • Send out an email to networks with a personal request for support (in Feb or March) with the link to donate and pictures of Corey and family. This is a personal message sent by email, he doesn’t use social media or general appeals. He’s found 1 to 1 is best in his networks.
  • Keep a list of the people who have been asked and who have donated
  • Send personal thank you notes and connect with the donor
  • Follow up on folks who haven’t given as the race date approaches
  • Run or Walk
  • Send a report of how much was raised, some photos, and thank everyone for their generosity and kindness.

Schryburt believes charity and philanthropy are crucial to combating cancer. He donates to charities through his pension monthly, to others through deductions, and of course to the Canadian Cancer Society through this fundraiser. 

Donate to the Waterboys and cheer them on as they stand up to cancer!