Mustangs rally for teammate as #ONETEAM

By Adela Talbot
February 06, 2014

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ONETEAMAdela Talbot, Western News
Mustang rowers Jill Moffatt and Lenore Chesworth helped start #ONETEAM, selling jerseys to raise money for cancer research after teammate, Natalie Connell, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Over the holidays, Natalie Connell, a Western Engineering student and varsity rower, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Upon hearing the news, her teammates were shocked, and sprung to action, wanting to help.

“For some of us, it’s the first time cancer has been close to us – especially touching someone close to your age, that you’re with all the time,” said Lenore Chesworth, Connell’s teammate, who is completing her master’s in Sports Management at Western.

“We wanted to do something to support her and show her she has a whole team that’s behind her, and even though we’re not going through what she’s going through, we can help her and be there for her.”

Out of this desire to support a teammate, #ONETEAM was born.

The original idea was to unite all varsity athletes by selling tank tops to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society, Chesworth explained. The white jersey-style tanks have a purple ‘W’ on the front and #ONETEAM above the Canadian Cancer Society logo on the back.

The initiative quickly spread, added teammate Jill Moffatt.

“We’re all on different teams, but we’re all on one team; we all represent Western and we all wear the Mustang, and Natalie’s our Mustang. We wanted to show her she has Western Athletics behind her,” she said.

Roommates, friends of athletes and students from faculties across campus quickly jumped on board, ordering tank tops to sport in support of Connell and cancer research. And the demand kept growing, Moffatt added.

“We’re obviously a very close community in rowing, so people from other teams saw our posts about #ONETEAM. We’re good friends with people from Brock and some of them wanted to order shirts. The next thing you know, they wanted 25 shirts and we were all really surprised by their support because we compete against them. That was very touching; I was overwhelmed,” said Moffatt, a third-year Health Sciences student.

“Once we realized we could sell to other schools, we just kind of started contacting everyone we could – people from all over Canada.”

Western’s rowing alumni have also jumped on board, ordering shirts and donating funds, while the initiative has drawn the attention of teams across North America, including NCAA programs, like Texas, Villanova and Virginia.

So far, #ONETEAM has sold roughly 500 jerseys (for $20 each), garnered nearly 1,000 likes on Facebook and raised about $2,500 for the Canadian Cancer Society from the shirt sales alone. But the rowing team isn’t stopping there.

The Mustangs’ annual Ergathon, set for Saturday, Feb. 8, is partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society this year. Athletes from Canada’s national team will join the Mustangs on stationary rowing machines at White Oaks Mall, collecting donations. Half of the proceeds will go to the Canadian Cancer Society and the other half to the Mustang rowing program.

“Everyone’s seeing athletes wearing this shirt and everyone’s getting excited about having one shirt unique to all of us,” Moffatt said.

“What started out as something small is now a challenge. We want to see how big this can get,” Chesworth added. “It’s very positive and gives us a lot of faith that a little idea can go a long way.

“When it comes to charity, people don’t realize that just a little bit really does go a long way.”

The team will submit the last order for shirts Feb. 15, but those wishing to donate can do so beyond the date on the team’s Canadian Cancer Society page. The team is asking members or organizations in the community to come forward and join the initiative, matching any funds they can to further the efforts for cancer research in honour of a fellow Mustang.























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