Yarmouth university students part of Acadia group to walk 10K on Great Wall of China for cancer research fundraiser

Tina Comeau
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By Tina Comeau




A group of Acadia University students is leaving for China this month to, they say, make a difference.

Not only will they be doing so by helping to teach students in China as part of their university education program, but they also intend to raise money in support of cancer research by undertaking a 10-kilometre hike on the Great Wall of China. The money is being raised for the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Everyone has been really supportive of our plan,” says Stacy Allen, a 2007 graduate of Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School.

“When we first began this fundraiser three weeks ago our initial goal was set at $500. We have since surpassed our goal and have raised almost $3,000. So I am happy to say that the response has been quite positive.”

Another Yarmouth member of the group going to China is Bethanie Smith, who graduated from YCMHS in 2008. Rounding out the group are Acadia University students Brittany Sanford, Megan Barro, Caleb Hill, James Langille and Tyler MacLean. The students depart for China on Thursday, Feb. 13. The date for their fundraising walk on the Great Wall of China has not yet been confirmed.

“The idea for the walk came about when the mother of one of my fellow classmates passed away due to cancer this past December,” explains Allen. “We decided to begin a fundraiser in memory of her mother and other individuals who are diagnosed with this disease. All of the funds raised through our walk will be going to the Canadian Cancer Society to help fund cancer research and support.

“We are very proud to have the chance to walk the Great Wall of China to raise money,” Allen adds. “Cancer affects so many individuals and their families. It’s wonderful to be able to help people in a time of need and inspire others to do the same.”

The group of students is accepting online donations until Wednesday, Feb. 12. Here is a link to their fundraising page.

On the page the students talk about what is inspiring them to partake in this fundraiser.

“I recently lost my mother, Laura May Sanford, age 55 to a courageous battle with small cell lung cancer,” writes student Brittany Sanford. “My mother’s passion for life and her love of her family and friends brightened up any room she was in and although dealing with the loss has been difficult she would be the first to say, stay strong, stay positive and do something meaningful. This cause hits close to home and this is our reason for participating in a community fundraiser in support of the Canadian Cancer Society.”

About the fundraiser Sandford adds, “This event is not only in memory of my loving mother and others lost to cancer, but also in support and hope for those currently living with cancer and to honour survivors.” 

As mentioned, it is the students’ studies that will be taking them to China. The education students will be teaching in China as part of their final practicum in their university studies.

The students will be overseas for four months.

“We are all very honored to have the opportunity to travel to China. It's the opportunity of a lifetime. Few people have the chance to experience a culture so distinctly different from our own,” Allen says. “Teaching in China will give me a better insight into who I am as a teacher, and how to address differences in both teaching and learning styles. The international practicum program offered at Acadia University is a wonderful way for students to gain experience living and teaching in a different culture.”

Allen says this is her first trip overseas and while she’s very excited for the journey, she admits the 16 hours of flight time is less exciting. Still, she says living in China for four months will be an eye-opening experience.

“I have lived in Nova Scotia my whole life, and cannot wait to see more of our wonderful world,” she says.

Like Allen, Bethanie Smith of Yarmouth is also looking forward to the experience.

“Traveling to China has always been a dream of mine. When I realized that through Acadia I could teach in the country I knew that it was the school for me,” she says. “It is certainly a bit of a scary feeling to travel so far but I am honoured and excited to be given this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity. I know I can only grow as a teacher and individual with this experience.”

Smith – who says she is very proud of her classmates for taking part in this China adventure, and the fundraiser they are planning –  has never been one to shy away from volunteering or fundraising, for instance, during her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie she volunteered as part of the Bust A Move for Breast Health for the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation.

“Volunteering and fundraising has always been an avid part of my life even throughout elementary, junior high and high school, through the Yarmouth Lions Club, Salvation Army and my dance school, the Mackenzie School of Dance,” she says. “I truly believe that being an active member of your community is extremely important and something that we, as adults, should encourage all of our children and youths to take part in.

The group is hoping that their fundraising walk on the Great Wall of China  in support of cancer research will encourage others to also pursue and get involved in fundraisers.

“It is my hope that our fundraising drive will help inspire youth to be active members of their communities,” says Stacy Allen, who has always viewed community and volunteer work as important. In high school she fundraised for the Red Cross and was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. More recently she’s been involved with programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Valley Community Learning Association in Kentville.

Allen says everyone has it in them to make a difference.

“Even a small group of individuals can make a difference,” she says. “Raising money for causes like cancer helps support those in need, and brings hope for the future. This has really been a team effort. I am very blessed to be traveling to China with such a wonderful and inspiring group of young teachers.”

Bethanie Smith concurs, saying, in their case, helping to raise money for cancer research is very important as it impacts so many.

“From friends to family members, cancer unfortunately touches everyone in different ways,” she says. “All of these individuals will hold a special place in our hearts while on this journey and beyond. It is our hope that with all of our dedication and support we can hope to one day create a world where no one needs to fear cancer.”


(Note: We have requested a photo of the university group to add to the story.)

Organizations: Acadia University, Canadian Cancer Society, Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School Red Cross Big Brothers Big Sisters Valley Community Learning Association

Geographic location: China, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Kentville

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Recent comments

  • Kim Leverington
    February 10, 2014 - 22:02

    Its great to see these young people so driven by both a sense of stepping up and doing something great for a good cause, and stepping out of their comfort zones and teaching abroad. Stacy is my daughter and we are so proud of her and her classmates! We wish them all safe travels and great experiences in China!