The Divisional Policing Support Unit (DPSU) grew their staches and support, leading the Movember charge for the Service this year.
The unit – comprising Community Mobilization, TAVIS, and Transit Patrol – achieved its goal, coming out as the top Toronto Police Divisional fundraiser and finishing behind the Burnaby Buzz Police team in the overall Great Canadian Police Challenge competition.
DPSU raised $16,907, while the 12 Division Follicle Force and Court Services raised $8,585 and $4,372 respectively. The Toronto Police Association once again donated an additional $10,000.
Movember is an annual month-long fundraising event where participants grow moustaches or take pledges over the course of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other men’s health issues.
TAVIS Constable Diane Woolfenden was one of the DPSU’s top fundraisers with $1,085.
Woolfenden was inspired to raise funds for this year’s challenge primarily because of family members diagnosed with cancer.
“My husband was diagnosed six years ago and one of his friends just died of the disease,” she said, of prostate cancer, from which her husband has recovered. “Those were the motivating factors for me to really get involved this year and help raise awareness.”
Victoria Shaw-Zacheja, the DPSU volunteer coordinator and consultative committees’ liaison, captained the winning team.
“Everybody has been touched by cancer in some way,” she said. “A friend of my uncle has stage-four prostate cancer and we are keeping our fingers crossed that he makes a full recovery. So, it was sort of personal for me this year.”
Staff Sergeant Jordan Latter was the top DPSU fundraiser with $2,025.
A total of 67 DPSU members, including 22 female officers, took part in this year’s challenge.
“The effort of the women was exemplary,” said Inspector David Saunders. “They really stepped up in a big way… Led by Superintendent Chris Fernandes, we are a very close-knit unit and we are so proud of our people and the leadership they displayed.”
Saunders had high praise for Shaw-Zacheja.
“In any endeavour like this, you need somebody who is going to step forward and be the go-to person that pulls it all together,” he said. “She knows the process. I had to consult her when we started because I was on night shift as the Duty Inspector. She was patient and she knows what things people need to facilitate their entry into it. She is one of the reasons why initiatives like this work.”
Overall, Canadian police services raised $236,000 for this year’s Movember Challenge.