By Sophie Desrosiers
Algonquin journalism and public relations students, faculty and alumni gathered at the Heart and Crown downtown on Oct. 23 for a night of singing, dancing, memories, fun and a good cause.
It’s estimated that over 130 people attended the Miracles for Mark event, to benefit part-time Algonquin journalism professor Mark Anderson who was diagnosed with throat and neck cancer this past spring.
Cancer treatments prevented Anderson from earning income this past summer, and the cause was held to help relieve his debts.
The event was initially meant to be a smaller-scale fundraiser put on by Anderson’s colleagues but instead became a project for public relations students. They raised additional funds through raffles and a silent auction, while guests were entertained through a fly-fishing themed photo booth, a live performance by Shawn Tavernier and karaoke.
At the time of the event, $6,000 had been raised, though that number continues to grow through online donations.
The event wasn’t just a fundraiser to help Anderson and his wife as work takes a backseat to the disease. It was also a celebration for a professor who has left an impact on many students over the years.
Anderson said he was moved by the realization that so many of his former and current students had come out to spend the night with him and show their support.
“The number of people that came out, it does make you feel that your life maybe means something,” said Anderson. “It gives a sense of meaning and purpose to what you’re doing.”
The role Anderson has played for students over the years not only as a mentor, but as a friend, was obvious as students took the stage at the Heart and Crown to tell funny and heartwarming stories of their time with him.
Anderson delivered a speech onstage midway through the evening. As he explained the intense, difficult treatments he needed to endure, a voice from the back of the room yelled out, “Funny, you still made it!” The room erupted in cheers for Anderson as all raised their glasses to toast him.
“When you’re going through the worst of the worst of the treatments and you can’t really raise your head from the bed you’re so weak, so beaten up,” he said during his speech. “And you wonder, ‘Is it worth going on or should I just call it a day?’ Then you take a look around, you see everybody here and you go, ‘Well, this is it, right. Of course it’s worth it. Look at all the people who care about you.’ It’s so endearing.”
Anderson’s wife, Catherine Lindquist, wiped away tears as he wrapped up his speech. Lindquist, like Anderson, is grateful for all of the support they have received from the college and students through this difficult time, but she isn’t surprised at the outpouring of love sent her husband’s way.
“Mark is very warm and personable and has always treated his students as adults, as equals,” she said. “He has always encouraged them to reach for the highest opportunities that they can.”
“The outpouring of support was heartwarming and touching,” she added. “It was uplifting in many ways.”