THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – On Sunday, September 30th, 2012, 17 teams participated in the 8th Annual Tony Villeneuve Memorial Auto Rally, Presented by A. Villeneuve Mechanical Ltd. in support of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. They raised $25,000 this year, bringing the total to $382,850 to date. These funds are directed to the Anthony “Tony” Villeneuve Endowment Fund, which helps to fund lung cancer research, patient care, and education and awareness. 100% of the funds raised remain in Northwestern Ontario.
The Tony Villeneuve Memorial Auto Rally, presented by A. Villeneuve Mechanical Ltd. is a navigational rally open to all passenger vehicles. Participants had the option of joining the Pro-Class (competitive) or Sportsman Class (less competitive). Drivers were given a set of instructions which is the ‘route’ they had to follow with the help of their team. Along the way there were also questions and trivia to answer. It was a fun-filled adventure with lots of laughs and great camaraderie. Prizes were awarded for the top three pledge collectors as well as the top finishing car in each class.
“The Auto Rally is a fantastic event,” said Jo-Anne Giertuga. “Each year the committee outdoes themselves on putting together the route and finding new ways to challenge us. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday while supporting the advancement of healthcare here in Northwestern Ontario, all in memory of Tony”.
“It is due to these types of events and the ongoing support of engaged people in our community, like the rally organizers and participants, that major advancements are being made in imaging lung disease,” said David Knutson, Chair, Board of Directors, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “Funds raised from this event have directly supported Dr. Mitch Albert’s work in hyperpolarized gas MRI, which magnifies traditional MRI signals to give a much clearer picture of physiological change in tissue, in areas, like the lungs, which have traditionally been resistant to conventional MRI.”
The event’s route changes each year and is unknown to participants as they head out on event day, with the exception of the final destination. Participants must be sure to follow detailed route instructions exactly to arrive at each of the checkpoints scattered throughout the route. Missing a checkpoint adds a major points penalty and in this event the lowest score wins.
The rally is named after local businessman Tony Villeneuve who passed away in 2006 of mesotheliomia (cancer that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos). Tony was an active participant in the event for many years and also had great community spirit. His quick smile and love for life was infectious to all those who knew him. One of his favourite sayings was “Who has more fun than people!” and Tony lived his life always looking at the positive and enjoying the fun in each day.