$325,000 donated by Pink in the City to MUHC’s Breast Clinic Wellness program

Vourtzoumis family fundraisers have brought in more than $1 million since 2006

In 2006 while driving to school with his mother, an 11-year-old Lawrence Vourtzoumis heard an advertisement on the radio requesting volunteers to shave their heads as a demonstration of solidarity for those who had lost their hair due to chemo treatments for breast cancer.

Lawrence was captivated by this idea and asked his mother, Denise, if he could participate. He wanted to shave his head to show support, which was a pretty brave thing for a pre-teen to do. Denise agreed and helped Lawrence raise the required amount of money to be able to participate.

Eighteen years and many fundraising gala evenings later, Pink in the City (the organization he and his mother helped found) has raised more than $1 million for the MUHC Foundation, which remits funds to the McGill University Health Centre’s Breast Clinic Wellness Program.

Members of Denise and Bobby Vourtzoumis’ family, including children and grandchildren, are seen here with an enlarged cheque for $325,000, representing Pink in the City’s latest donation to the MUHC Foundation. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

$325,000 since last year

The latest annual contribution was an astounding $325,000, presented to MUHC officials during a rousing celebration, including a Pink in the City plaque unveiling, at the hospital in Montreal last week The event, held in the MUHC’s towering interior atrium, was attended by a good number of political and community leaders from the Laval and Montreal regions.

They included Laval city councillor for l’Abord à Plouffe Vasilios Karidogiannis, Montreal city councillor for Parc Extension Mary Deros, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board chairman Paolo Galati, Senator Tony Loffreda, and a delegation of students from SWLSB schools who helped add tens of thousands of dollars to this year’s sum with matching amounts from Avon.

More than $1 million raised

“The MUHC Foundation is so grateful for Pink in the City,” foundation officials wrote on Pink in the City’s Facebook page. “Since their inception, Pink in the City has donated over 1 million dollars to the MUHC Foundation. Thank you, Denise Vourtzoumis, for your leadership and dedication to making a difference in the lives of women and helping them thrive after cancer. We look forward to what you have stored for 2024!”

“Grateful to stand with Pink in the City today as we celebrate their incredible journey in the fight against breast cancer,” said Senator Tony Loffreda.

“Grateful to stand with Pink in the City today as we celebrate their incredible journey in the fight against breast cancer,” Senator Loffreda wrote on Pink in the City’s Facebook page last week. “Witnessing the impact of their work, from fundraising milestones to shaping young hearts, is truly inspiring.

“Congratulations to the entire Pink in the City family, and a heartfelt thank you to Denise Vourtzoumis for her unwavering passion,” added Loffreda. “Let’s continue to paint the city pink and support one another in this important cause.”

Humble beginnings

Pink in the City started as a single event in 2006. This heightened an already existing awareness about breast cancer in the community and the need to support those who had been touched by this insidious disease. It also embedded the idea that every selfless gesture of support makes a difference.

“From this first experience it was clear that there was much more to do and my family and I have been blessed to be able to create new opportunities to support this important cause over the years,” Denise writes on one of Pink in the City’s web pages.

Having been raised with a strong belief in volunteerism and giving back to the community, she said it was important to rally like-minded people to the cause – people who cared and wanted to make a difference. Over time, volunteers, sponsors, partners and medical advisors allowed Pink in the City to attain and exceed its goals.

Student leadership

But at the same time, community partners have played a key role by supporting and attending Pink in the City’s various functions and events. Partnerships have extended to leadership programs at Laval-area high schools through the Model the Way program.

“Model the Way assures that the commitment to our cause will be carried forward by young people in the future,” added Denise. Last week, a Laval Senior Academy delegation, including students Alejandro Gutierrez and Zoe Scappaticcio, attended Pink in the City’s cheque presentation ceremony, accompanied by SWLSB chair Paolo Galati.

From the left, Laval Senior Academy students Alejandro Gutierrez and Zoe Scappaticcio who helped raise funds last year for the MUHC through Pink in the City, along with SWLSB chairman Paolo Galati. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

Almost from the beginning, Pink in the City has worked closely in partnership with the breast clinic at the MUHC. Under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Sarkis Meterissian, the clinic has helped define goals by providing updated information about breast cancer, the needs of patients and of the medical practitioners who provide care.