By: Sophie Desrosiers
Seven public relations students are putting their strengths to good use to help plan a fundraiser for an Algonquin faculty member to be held on Oct. 23.
Over the summer break Mark Anderson, a journalism professor of nearly 10 years at the college, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. His co-workers at the college decided to plan a fundraiser to help Anderson financially while he undergoes treatment.
“We were picking the professors’ brains so that we could do this ourselves,” said Julie McCann, a colleague of Anderson’s who also co-teaches a journalism class with him.
McCann said one of the professors in the public relations program suggested using a group of students to plan the event instead. The students would be able to gain experience, while bringing event-planning expertise to the table.
Stephen Heckbert, coordinator of the public relations program, approached second-year public relations student Amanda Friedrich to lead a team to plan the event.
“They knew they wanted to put together some sort of an event for him,” said Friedrich. “They basically came up with the idea but everything was kind of all over the place. No one really knew what they wanted to do, so that’s when we came in and helped them out.”
Friedrich and six classmates started planning the event, which will be held at the Heart and Crown pub downtown. The evening will start with a performance by Shawn Tavenier of local soul band Silver Creek, and will end with karaoke.
McCann said the decision to incorporate a performance and karaoke into Anderson’s fundraiser was an easy one because “he loves music.”
“We wanted something fun,” said McCann. “Standing around with drinks, chit chatting is fun and we want that to happen, but we also want a bit of joy and silliness.”
Natasha Jamieson, another PR student working on the project, was tasked with researching some background information on Anderson, whom they had never met prior to planning the event. Their research uncovered Anderson’s passion for fly fishing, which became the inspiration behind the décor.
“We’re having a whole bunch of fishing décor,” said Friedrich. “It’ll just be very lighthearted and a lot of fun for everyone to come out and support Mark.”
The team started selling tickets themselves, through Media and Design professors and online, with some purchases coming from as far as Toronto, showing the strong impact Anderson has left on students over the years.
Many journalism graduates from past years are expected to attend the event to show support for Anderson. Among them is Aisys Adona, a 2012 journalism graduate.
“I’d love to do anything to help support him,” said Adona, whose attendance for the event was never in question. “Mark would do it for you.”
McCann emphasized that the event is about more than just raising money.
“It is also a celebration for a really cool guy,” she said.