It was spring in 2009 when long time friends Nathalie Le Prohon and Julie Sylvestre sat down to cocktails and serious girl talk. Nathalie recounted the experience of walking 60km during the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer. After surviving the illness herself a few years back, she had decided to get actively involved and the experience of the Walks had been exhilarating, but after participating three years in a row, she was ready for something new. The two friends wanted to take up arms in the battle against cancer and wished to put both soul and body into it. It was clear to them that the summer was already packed with events and activities and thus their initiative had to find a calendar mark during the winter. Of course they were not going to take it inside because the weather might be a little rowdy, so they settled for the weekend in February that counted with the glow of a full moon, even if it was also the coldest evenings of the bitter Canadian winter. The rules of engagement were simple: 100% of proceeds will go the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.
The wheels were set in motion and the Flocon Rose was born with the volunteer efforts of friends. It was decided that every participant would pay for her own expenses, and would have to raise at least $2000 dollars to participate. By the winter of 2010 the first edition was launched: 14 women spent the weekend at l’Auberge Lac-à-l’Eau-Claire and participated in a busy outdoor endurance activity schedule that ranged from snowshoeing to winter forest golf and even yoga. $ 120 000 CAD were raised and fully handed over to the Foundation.
In 2011 a few new participants joined the team. This year The Flocon Rose pushed forward with an emotional undertone, for Nathalie was diagnosed with cancer once again. The goal remained the same, to give to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, but it expanded to gather positive energy and support to its co-founder. Le Prohon in turn, participates with her personal goal at the core: that one day her kids can live without cancer. For a second time in a row, donations reached $ 120 000 CAD.
Both Julie and Nathalie are members of the administrative council of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation. Nathalie has been the President for two years and was most recently named Director. Their close involvement with the cause allows them to follow the funds they raise very closely. Le Prohon explains that the money is used largely for research, which is a real tangible way to invest since the differences are visible: survival rate today is at 88%, which is 6% higher than10 years ago; “investing in research helps”- she adds- “you actually save lives.” Flocon Rose money may also be applied to offer patient support and to encourage women to get tested.
What sets the Flocon Rose apart? Beyond raising money for an important cause, and the personal sense of accomplishment its physical activity facet allows for, it builds valuable relationships and leaves a lasting imprint in the lives of all the participants. Julie and Nathalie both speak of the amazing camaraderie that develops during the weekend the group of women spend together, “there is a lot of heart in it,” explains Sylvestre, and that is itself a strong incentive to do it over again. The Flocon Rose is also different than its counterparts because none of the proceeds are fed back to organization or coverage of any costs, a true 100% goes to the Foundation.
For 2012 the founders hope to increase the number of participants to 24 aided by the added personal mandate that every woman brings one friend into it. Men are welcome too, thou none have been brave enough yet! Sylvestre clarified that the number of participants cannot be much larger because they are not willing to compromise their mandate of donating absolutely every penny raised. Still, some spaces remain available, so if you wish to participate you should contact the Flocon Rose directly.
To donate all you need to do is support a participant. In the upcoming weeks the list will become available online and you will be able to click on any participant’s name and donate directly.
Ultimately, at Lolë we wish the dream comes true and as Julie expressed, “…soon I hope that when we organize a Flocon Rose it will be just for the fun of it, because we found the cure.”