The Boat Rally for Cancer returns to the waters of Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau this weekend in support of Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Center and the Ronald McDonald House, and actor John O’Hurley is one of a dozen celebrities coming forward to support the cause.
The boat rally was launched in 2013 following the success of its sister event, the Car Rally for Kids. Combined, the two events have raised more than $25 million for various charities over the years. This year’s boat rally on August 19-20 is an outdoor event where fundraising teams will compete in an Amazing Race-style competition followed by a gala dinner on Saturday evening . The first five teams to raise more than $20,000 have a celebrity sailor along for the ride. One such celebrity is actor John O’Hurley, best known for his role as J. Peterman Seinfeld.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to give back to such a wonderful organization and such a wonderful event,” O’Hurley said. “We will get ready [the lakes of] Muskoka with our boat rally trying to raise money for the hospital there in Sunnybrook and also for the Ronald McDonald House here in Toronto, so it’s going to be a lot of fun, but most importantly, we have a good core goal at the end of the weekend.”
O’Hurley had been competing in car rallying for a few years when he decided to join boat rallying in 2017. Both events offer an obstacle course-style challenge where participants must complete special tasks as they solve clues in their race to the finish line. line
In 2020, the boat rally was replaced by an online auction, while in 2021 all participants boarded boats in their respective bubbles for a boat parade and concert on the water. The modified approach meant there were no celebrity meet-and-greets, so while he was sad to be away from the rally during COVID, it feels wonderful to be back now, O’Hurley said.
A dozen celebrities, including NHLer Sam Gagner and actor Billy Baldwin, have flown in for the event. Because many have participated in the rally before, it’s like seeing family, O’Hurley said, adding that it’s a way to express the community they feel with each other and do good at the same time. The event is always a lot of fun, but more than anything, it’s about helping people, especially children, deal with cancer and other chronic conditions.
“I am blessed to be the father of a healthy 15-year-old who has been a joy to raise,” said O’Hurley. “[Participating in the rally is] my gratitude that God blessed me with a wonderful child and I don’t have to go through these incredible emotional and financial hardships of having a child with some of the conditions that Sunnybrook is able to identify, both with their treatment against cancer as his research”.
Odette Cancer Center of Sunnybrook provides care to a wide range of cancer patients while working on cancer prevention, detection and education. The center oversees clinical trials and research to help improve patient outcomes, and is one of the largest cancer programs in North America.
The other charity benefiting from the boat rally is Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing and other resources for sick children and their families. Their facilities allow families to stay together close to the hospital where their child is receiving treatment, reducing the cost and complexity of an already difficult process.
Heading into this weekend’s rally, O’Hurley is excited to see how much is raised for both charities, and encourages permanent and seasonal residents to support their fellow Ontarians during the event . Being a part of the boat rally is a summer tradition that O’Hurley plans to keep for years to come, and it doesn’t hurt that the events bring him back to beautiful Muskoka.
“I don’t see an end in sight,” he said. “I like it and it takes me to Muskoka, which I think is one of the really great lake views in North America. It’s a lot of fun up there, and I can understand why people embrace it as a summer home “.
For more information about the Boat Rally for Cancer, or to make a donation, visit the event website. For regular updates throughout the weekend, follow along the event on Facebook.