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The Laughing Out Loud committee: Rachel Williams, Darlene Burnham, Mary Long, Sandy Cimoroni and Chris Reidy.

Carrie Scherkus

The Gift: Creating Ladies Out Laughing

The Reason: To raise money for cancer research and family support programs

A few years ago, Deirdre Thomas asked her friend Chris Reidy if she wanted to participate in the Weekend to End Women's Cancers, a walk to raise money for Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.

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Ms. Reidy was game but she didn't want to turn to friends and family for donations.

So, she and Ms. Thomas decided to do something different. They approached Ms. Reidy's sister who knew comedian Laurie Elliott and asked the comic if she would do a show to raise money. Ms. Elliott agreed and brought along another comedian.

The women rented a basement room in a pub in Oakville, Ont., and put tickets on sale for $25. Demand was so strong they booked a second performance.

They raised $6,000 that year and went on to create Ladies Out Laughing, LOL, an annual all-female comedy show that has raised nearly $200,000 since 2008.

The most recent event, held last month in a 500-seat hall in Oakville, pulled in $65,000. Most of the donations have gone to Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto but the group has contributed to other cancer-related causes as well.

"I'd never participated in the weekend to end cancer," Ms. Reidy recalled from her home in Oakville where she is a stay-at-home mom and works with dozens of volunteers on LOL.

"Once I participated I could just see how powerful it was and the strength in numbers. It doesn't really matter how much you raise over all; if you have the time and energy to do your part, then why not?"

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