Fund gives athletes a sporting chance

ryan_cuthbertJuly 25, 2008
Don Brennan
Ottawa Sun

To get to Beijing, Ryan Cuthbert needed a new boat.

Not a K-2 kayak the Carleton Place native will help guide while representing Canada in the Summer Games. Those babies are purchased by the team. No, Cuthbert needed the most modernized K-1, a single-seater he spends “85-90%” of his time in while training and for qualifying trials. The cost: $5,000.

Might as well be $5 million to an amateur athlete.

“You’ve got to shell it out yourself,” Cuthbert said yesterday. “And you’ve got to have an extra paddle, which costs $400-500. Can Fund definitely helps out a lot.”

For that, many of this country’s Olympians can thank Ottawa native Jane Roos.

A rising track star before a car accident ended her career at the age of 19, Roos is the founder and executive director of the Canadian Athletes Now Fund, a not-for-profit organization devoted solely to raising funds and awareness for Canada’s athletes. Started in 1997, Can Fund has assisted hundreds of athletes with more than $7 million. Its awareness and profile has grown — last year Senators owner Eugene Melynk donated $1 million — and so has the demand from athletes. Twice a year, more than 400 of them apply for funding, and most of them have their wishes granted.

To generate cash this year, Roos’ organization has instituted the $8 for 08.08.08 Event Campaign. In asking Canadians to donate $8, she has found that people are coming up with creative means. Companies are donating $8 per employee. Athletes are rallying their communities and hometowns to chip in to help the program, as well.

“The idea is to give money directly to Canadian athletes, to put money to what it is supposed to be used for,” said Roos. “These people are living on $1,500 a month and trying to be the best in the world. It doesn’t really add up.”

Those wishing to offer their support can donate on-line ( and will receive a tax receipt and the name of the athlete they are supporting. Donations can also be made over the phone (with American Express, MasterCard or Visa at 416-487-4442 or 1-866-YES-2006) and by mail to: Canadian Athletes Now, 106 Berkeley Street, Toronto ON, M5A 2W7. Cheques should be made payable to “Canadian Athletes Now.” Do not send cash.