LegoLand was organizing a Pan Am event at their adult night they host every month and they asked me to by their guest of honour. I know what you think: adult night at LegoLand? There's alcohol right? Because if there isn't, it's kind of weird... Well that's exactly what I thought too. So I asked if it was possible to come see the event the month before to have an idea of what exactly is an adult night at LegoLand. No alcohol by the way. For those who read this and don't know what LegoLand is (like me the first time I stepped inside), it's an indoor amusement park for kids with a lot, I mean A LOT, of Lego. They also host special event and birthday parties. So I went there with my girlfriend to spy a little bit and to be honest: it took me an hour and a half to wake up and remember that I had a “job” to do that night and it was not about having fun, which I had! It is a lot of fun and there are always a lot of prizes to win. A lot of mini games and always some building contest. So after having a great night playing with Lego, and the best part is that I was actually working, I went back home with a lot of cool prizes and a smile or my face (and on my girlfriend's also). The event the today was great! I met a lot of people interested about Pan Am Games and about fencing and they were all very excited about the mini game we had and the fact that they could try fencing on the spot. So after a lot of information given and a lot of poking later, we had amazing feedback from the people at LegoLand as well as the participants. Thank you so much LegoLand for inviting us there and by the way, we had a blast both nights. We are both, Vango and LegoLand, looking forward for the next opportunity that we will work together. I still envy people that works there though: getting paid to play with Lego? Really? They must hear that all the time but it means like an awesome job to me! (Pictures above are Marc-André and I from Vango and winners of different contest during the night)
As a marketing associate at Vango, I have to promote fencing and Vango but also to build the image of Vango being part of the community. Someone I know gave me the idea of doing a fundraiser for a good cause to get people in Vango at the same time as raise money for one of the community's charity. I decided to do a fundraiser for SickKids Foundation because they saved my mother's and aunt's lives when they were born. I started the promotion of the event, which was introducing fencing to people through fencing games and activities, in schools of the region and demos I was doing. I also found sponsors for the event: Advantage4Athletes, Boston Pizza and Running Free. The event went well and I raised a total of one thousand six hundred eighty dollars and gave it all to SickKids foundation at the neonatal department. I hope that I will be able to make a fundraiser like this at least once a year. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the event!
The Mayor's office ask me to participate in the GlobalFest press conference as a Pan Am Games athlete and I gladly accepted. The GlobalFest is a festival for the whole family presenting over 600 artists from 41 countries on 9 days (July 11th to 19th). They asked me to give a little speech and I used the microphone time and attention that we almost never have in the world of fencing (for Canada at least) to thank everyone for the support they give to all kinds of athletes. As an athlete, we are always focus on the next tournament or training and we lose perspective on how much the community is supporting athletes. Just for the Pan Am Games, they have over 23'000 volunteers! Only that tells a lot on the support of the community. I talked for the second time with Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of Markham, and his enthusiasm for Pan Am Games that I felt the first time we met is actually general to everything that Markham is implicated in. Mister Scarpitti is not only a great leader of the city but also the #1 fan of Markham. I really wish that I could make it to the GlobalFest and enjoy the artistic version of Pan Am Games but I will be in Russia for my World Championships. I really hope that everybody will make it at some point at least. It's a very rare occasion that Markham will have that kind of diversity and we should all be part of it!
For more picture about the GlobalFest press conference, click HERE
Markham was celebrating Pan Am Day in Canada on June 13th and I was invited to the event as an athlete of the Games and also as a Markham resident, worker and enthusiast. After arriving and setting up the equipment for the demonstration, I hung around and started to talk to people there. I met some incredible people involved in different levels in the Pan Am Games and it caught me a bit off guard. I realized at that point that it was not only about my goals and my dream but it also includes the support and the effort of the whole city, province, country. The Games don't mean a lot to only me but it's also a huge event influencing a lot of people every where. I felt honoured and blessed to have the chance to participate and also have the chance to talk to people about it. I also met the Mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, genuine person that is very excited about Markham's involvement in the Games. Markham is lucky to have him not only during the Pan Am Games but also as a daily leader of the city.
For more pictures of Pan Am Day in Canada, please click HERE
Canada Play Day for Pan Am Games at the CBC Tower in Toronto. There was over 600 kids at the CBC Tower downtown Toronto that came in to celebrate Pan Am Games with different athletes from fencing, badminton, gymnastic, boxing and one Para Pan Am sport. Mark Peros (2015 Pan Am Games saber fencer), Eleanor Harvey (2015 Pan Am Games foil fencer), Marc-André LeBlanc from Vango (national champion), Vanessa Lacas-Warrick (national champion) and myself (2015 Pan Am Games épée fencer) took the fencing demonstration in hand and made an instant hit out of it. The fencing demo was the only one that was not at the same place as the other four sports but it was the only thing that was echoing in the CBC tower. Kids were coming into groups of forty to sixty at the time to have a short presentation of the Pan Am Games athletes and what is fencing all about. Then our national champions were doing a quick bout showing couple of fancy fencing moves to the kids to end up with a challenge to everyone watching the demo: put on mask, grab an épée and try to land an attack on them. The kids were having a blast trying to hit, one at the time of course, Marc-André or Vanessa. Their job on the other hand was to defend themselves without fighting back because the kids did not were a fencing jacket. All the kids present at the CBC tower that day actually landed a successful attack on either one of the national champions. After over four hours of demo, we went upstairs to see the other events finishing and all we could hear was great feedback from everyone regarding the fencing part of the day. Promoting Pan Am Games: check! Promoting physical activities and healthy habits: check! Giving a great time to hundreds of kids: check! Promoting fencing: check! Mission accomplished for today!
In order to give back a little something to the community, I started to organize a fundraiser for SickKids Foundation. Through Vango Canada Fencing Association (non-profit organization), I wanted to do a open door fencing day for everyone to learn about fencing through games and activities for the whole family (see the Vango Games blog on June 20th). Then I went to all surrounding businesses and ask them if they wanted to sponsor the event in form of food for the volunteers, gift for participant or any kind of help they were willing to do. Because Advantage4Athletes is on the same street as Vango, it was one of the first stop I made. After walking in for the first time that day, I was impressed by the facility and the professionalism it reflected. All the people I saw there that day seamed exactly where they belonged. They were all there for different reasons and they were from every background possible: professional athlete, 8 years old kids having a light training to stay active, some retired persons working on their flexibility to enjoy the golf season, some 30-40 years old training hard to lose weight, bodybuilder, injured athletes working on getting back on their feet, etc. After having a quick meeting with the A4A team, they agreed not only to give a lot of prizes for the event but also to sponsor me as an athlete. They believe in helping local athletes and being part of their preparation to reach for their dreams. I am lucky enough to have them supporting me and will do everything that I can to give them a little something in return. Thank you so much A4A for the support!