COVID-19 had a huge impact on the BRIGHT Run and its participants. But breast cancer didn’t stop for COVID, and neither did the outstanding efforts of our BRIGHT teams.

Take, for example, In It Together, captained by breast cancer survivor Donna Stampone. Donna’s exended family has a long history with breast cancer, going back several generations.

Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Her mother, Wilma Prosia, passed away in 2016 from breast cancer. Wilma’s sister, Rita Calcagni, was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. BRIGHT 2021 will be the team’s 12th event.

In It Together, launched in 2010, has hosted five celebration of music fundraisers since 2014 and held their first annual dinner/dance in 2018. The team’s third annual fundraising dinner/dance was set to go for BRIGHT 2020, but the event was postponed to keep everyone safe.

Team member Mark Calcagni, Rita’s son and Donna’s cousin, says the team decided Facebook was a great way to reach out safely during the pandemic to spread the word and raise money.

“We decided to start off our fundraising events with a silent auction…always a hit at our event,” Mark said.

Two prizes were posted on Facebook each day for a week. Participants made their bids in the comment section of the posts and the highest bid at the end of each day won the prize. The event raised $1,280.

“Then we decided to organize a few trivia nights to have some fun during a difficult time,” said Mark, noting that three trivia nights raised more than $300 in total.

Three Wheel of Fun games offered great prizes – a $100 Lululemon gift card, a $100 LCBO gift card and a booze basket.

“We had participants buy a spot the wheel for $10 and the last person left on the wheel was the winner,” he said. “We raised a total of $700 among the three events.”

And finally, the never-fail 50/50 draw. This version worked the same way as Wheel of Fun – participants bought a spot on the wheel and the last person left after numerous spins won half of the money raised. Between two draws, the team raised a total of $750.

“We had so much fun planning these events together,” Mark said of the family effort that went into the fundraising plans. “It was a great opportunity to spend some quality time during this difficult time.”

Mark says the team plans to continue online fundraising in 2021, whether COVID is a factor or not. And he encourages other teams to give it a try as well.

“Start getting donations early, anything from gift cards to larger items,” he said. “Once you have donations, it will help you figure out what kind of events you can hold.”

For those new to online fundraising, Mark suggests combing the Internet for information about events other people have done in the past.

“You can literally do anything,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a large event. You can raise a lot of money with a small event. And it’s fun!”