The BRIGHT Run’s community connector program has branched out to cover Brantford and Niagara.

Denise Blais and Bill Bender will help spread the word about the BRIGHT Run across their communities, encouraging folks to get involved. They join Kristen Winkworth of Caledonia and Joanne Stacey of Burlington, who became our first community connectors last year.

Denise takes on her new role after only a year as a BRIGHT volunteer. She got involved last year through her friend, long-time BRIGHT volunteer Chris Gravelle, and was looking for a broader role this year.

“As soon as I found out that no money from fundraising goes into operating the event, I was sold,” she said. “And the local emphasis on research is very important to me.”

Denise has not had breast cancer herself, but several family members and friends have, including two people in her Brantford apartment building who recently underwent breast cancer surgery.

“The Juravinski Cancer Centre (JCC) serves us in Brantford, but I think the BRIGHT Run is not well-known enough in my city,” she said.

Denise plans to have an open house at her apartment building to distribute BRIGHT information, she is promoting the event at her Weight Watchers’ group and hopes to have an info table at the local farmers’ market.

Unlike Denise, Bill is not new to the BRIGHT Run; in fact, he’s been involved since the first event in 2008.

Bill came to us through his neighbour, Dr. Nicole Hodgson, a breast cancer surgeon at the JCC, who invited him to meet the BRIGHT team that first year.

And because community involvement is a strong Bender family tradition, Bill brought along his mom and dad, Carole and Cecil, to help as well. Cecil passed away in 2014.

Bill operates WRB Sales in Niagara Falls, which imports party supplies and toys and sells them to retailers. He has had a strong presence at the BRIGHT Run every year, supplying the bulk of our pink decorations.

Bill plans to connect with a range of businesses in Niagara Region and already has an agreement that 111 Avondale stores will display BRIGHT Run posters.

Many thanks to Denise and Bill for joining our community connector team, which was created last year by Lise Diebel, who chairs the BRIGHT Run’s Advertising, Marketing and Communications Committee. The goal is to provide BRIGHT information and engagement opportunities to businesses and other community-based organizations.

If you’re interested in becoming a community connector, please contact Lise at