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The Donor: Alyson Woloshyn

The Gift: Raising more than $1.5-million

The Cause: Alberta Cancer Foundation

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The Reason: To fund research into brain cancer

When Alyson Woloshyn was diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago, she did something remarkable. She started raising money to give back what her treatment was costing the health care system.

"People always asked, 'What can I do? We're so sorry for your situation.' And I think she kind of saw that as a way that people could contribute," her partner Jared Long said from the family's home in Calgary.

Ms. Woloshyn, 35, raised $50,000 and kept going. She set up a website, started blogging, wrote a book and created a group called "Woloshyn's Warriors" to raise even more money. Her enthusiasm and dedication caught the attention of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which began using Ms. Woloshyn's story in videos and brochures. She also became a favourite speaker at fundraising events. The foundation has now set up a trust in her name with the goal of raising $1.5-million for brain cancer research at Calgary's Tom Baker Centre.

Unfortunately, the cancer has began to take its toll. She suffers from a particularly lethal form of the illness and patients rarely live more than a few months. Once a recreational runner who ran 10-kilometre races, Ms. Woloshyn is now in a hospice unable to speak much or walk. "It has been a tough three years," Mr. Long said. "But in some ways it has allowed us an opportunity to meet some very caring people."

Through a friend, Ms. Woloshyn offered some thoughts on the legacy she hopes to leave.

"Cancer gave me a chance to stop and appreciate the people in my life and all the good things that I have," she said. "I want people to remember me for who I am not for what I was. I hope that I have inspired others to change something."

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She added: "To me, gratitude is key. To wake up every day and appreciate the life you've been given and act accordingly."



pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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