Heads & Hearts in Cancer Battle

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 5 a.m. April 25, 2017
Updated: 4:57 p.m. April 26, 2017

When it comes to raising money for a worthy cause, Toronto Police Service civilian member Andrew Stewart is very convincing in eliciting support.

A man in TPS uniform with a boy
Chief Mark Saunders with Aidan McDonald, who honoured an aunt and uncle he lost to cancer, by raising $3,000

He was the Service’s top individual fundraiser this year, raising $10,710 for Cops for Cancer.

Stewart contacted nearly 300 chief executive officers, Service members and friends.

“This is something I am very passionate about,” he said, at the 23rd annual Cops for Cancer event at Yorkdale Shopping Centre on April 22. “My mom is a cancer survivor and I saw what she went through while battling the disease.”

Jan Stewart was diagnosed with cancer six years ago.

"He saw me endure four operations, along with chemotherapy and radiation,” she said. “I think that inspired him and I am so proud of the work he is doing to raise money and awareness.”

This is the second year Stewart has raised money for Cops for Cancer. Last year, he raised $2,925.

A man in TPS uniform watches as a man is shaved with clippers
Chief Mark Saunders watches on as the top Cops for Cancer fundraiser Andrew Stewart, gets the finishing touches on his new look

“I know I have set the bar high for myself this year,” he said. “I don’t mind because I pledge that next year, the amount will be larger than what I got in 2016.”

Ten-year-old Aidan McDonald was the second-highest individual fundraiser with just over $3,600.

He lost an aunt, Kim Flavelle, and an uncle, Toronto Constable Andrew McDonald, to cancer in a five-month span between October 2015 and March 2016.

“I am really proud of my son,” said Mike McDonald. “We have had some catastrophic losses recently and Aidan just decided to go out on his own and raise money. He started growing his hair about six months ago and he plans to donate it for a wig because his late aunt wore one.”

Two-time cancer survivor Constable Tony Riolo cut his hair for the first time at the fundraiser.

Cops For Cancer Head Shave

“Everybody needs to step up because we need to find a cure for this debilitating disease,” said Riolo, who has been with the Service since 1999. “It not only affects a person. It has an impact on families and friends. I have had a few surgeries and I have been back at work, since last August, doing light duties. The Service has been very accommodating to me and it’s good to get out of the house and make a contribution by cutting off all my hair.”

Constable Vivian Potter, of 11 Division, shaved her head for longtime friend Tracy New.

“We go way back since childhood,” she said. “Tracy is doing chemotherapy and radiation right now.”

Potter, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, and a group of seven friends raised almost $4,000.

A group of people, some in TPS uniform holding an oversized cheque
Participants celebrate raising over $55,000

Detective Sergeant Craig Drennan had every reason to be proud of his daughter.

For the past eight years, 20-year-old Laura Drennan has been growing her hair, but this year, she decided to cut it off and make a donation for wigs.

“I taught her the significance of caring for people and giving back and it’s good to see she listened to what I had to say,” said the 30-year veteran, whose brother is a cancer survivor.

The Yorkdale Management Team donated $6,500, the 32 Division Fontana Cup donated $3,300, the Toronto Police Association $2,000 and the Chinese Consultative Committee donated $1,000 to this year’s event, attended by Chief Mark Saunders and many senior officers.

Started in Edmonton in 1994, Cops for Cancer is a national program raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society to research and support patients.

Over $1.8 million has been raised in the last 23 years to support cancer research.

Susan Drodge, the Canadian Cancer Society corporate and community partnerships director, said funds raised this year will go towards lifesaving cancer research and support services for cancer patients and their families in Toronto. 

A woman holds a braid of hair
Laura Drennan, 20, grew her hair for eight years, cutting it off to raise money as well as donate her hair to cancer victims
A man with a boy
Constable Chris Devereux and his son Bradley teamed up to raise over $1,000 for Cops For Cancer
TPS crest watermark