Blend four business degrees, the desire to boost cancer prevention, a pink 2001 Dodge Caravan and the nostalgia of a classic 1980s film.
The result: Top Guns Charity, created by four recent University of Victoria business school grads, its aim is to help university students across the country fundraise to suit local breast cancer prevention and treatment priorities. And one more thing, the mix also includes pink flight uniforms and aviator sunglasses.
In 2007, Kenneth Heinbecker founded Top Guns at the University of Calgary with the sale of aviator sunglasses to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society. Top Guns branch groups were then formed at the University of British Columbia and UVic in 2010, when the Victoria group raised $3,500 for the society in its first year. This summer, Bear Johal, Cam MacQueen, Taylor Love and Drew Zimmerman put their degrees to work and registered the charity with the hopes of setting up more groups across the country.
“It’s really evolved and this is the next step,” Johal said.
“We all just graduated – that’s a high in itself,” addedTaylor Love. “To be able to use our talents, our skills in the real world is extremely exciting, then we can do that and give back to society – I don’t think there’s a better win-win than that.”
The guys are now preparing to take off on an 80-day Think Pink tour across every major Canadian university campus from Victoria to St. John’s, with the hope of expanding Top Guns in at least four more cities. The sale of sunglasses cover operational costs of the trip, allowing them to follow through with their business model of applying 100 per cent of all donations raised at campus events to local breast cancer treatment and prevention.
They hope to raise $135,000 for Top Guns Victoria for the purchase of a Film Digitizer and a Tissue Processor for the Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals. After their goals have been reached, they’ll hand the reigns of the group over to new student leaders and focus solely on administrating the national body – one that’s seeped in good times.
“We are a fun, university-run charity and that’s who we’re attracting,” Love said. “That’s why we appeal so much to the target market.”
“That’s how the Top Guns events were born,” Johal said. “Why not organize an event, have all of your friends together and do it for charity as well?”
Top Guns are seeking help on every level, from student volunteers to corporate sponsorship. To keep up with their progress, including blog updates and webisodes, go to topgunscharity.ca.
“We’re not just saving breasts, we’re saving lives,” Johal added from behind a pair of aviator sunglasses.
Top Guns Think Pink tour kick off fundraiser
When: 8 p.m., Sept. 6
Where: Felicitas, Student Union Building, University of Victoria
With: DJ OMRI and DJ Gypsy Portal