November 4, 2021 by Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC)
Editor’s Note: In honour and celebration of Women and Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC)’s 25th anniversary, Canadian Underwriter will be publishing each Friday a personal story of someone who has been touched by WICC’s fundraising activities in support of cancer care and research. In this second part of the series, there will be five stories. Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry has strongly supported WICC, which has set a goal of contributing a total of $25 million to cancer care and research by 2025.
Michael Butler is no stranger to cancer. After losing both sets of grandparents and an aunt, he remembers feeling powerless at the time. The family didn’t know much about the disease at the time; it was “just cancer.” Today, research developments and discoveries that significantly impact the quality of life for people living with cancer are available…a reality Michael promotes each day.
Science is an important motivator for Michael, which is why he dedicates his time to supporting cancer research. In fact, it runs in the family, his sister is an oncologist with the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto. It was Michael’s dedication to cancer research led him to WICC 16 yeas ago.
Michael first joined WICC as a national sponsor. Today, Michael sits on the WICC Board and for the past 13 years, has served as co-chair of the annual gala.
“I will never be a chair, always a co-chair, because I like teamwork.” Michael reflects. “I am in awe at how hard committees and board members work. We are all amazed at the dedication of WICC volunteers and their companies. They come from supportive employers that allow us all to spend time working on WICC initiatives. This has always been consistent – do what needs to be done. The entire insurance industry works together with a shared vision and goal. I love that attitude.”
Michael’s proudest event is the annual WICC Gala; a high-profile event that gathers, celebrates and fundraises. Education is a large part of the evening, to inspire donors, the insurance industry at large and people living with cancer. The gala committee of 12 works hard to deliver educational research advancements to attendees, like the discovery of the breast cancer genome. The gala is full of fun with auctions, door prizes and some fantastic entertainment, like Chantal Kreviazuk one year. The best part for Michael? “Getting to donate an oversized golf-style cheque – it’s massive, as big as the ones professional golfers get! It is so motivating and inspiring to have the honour of doing that.”
Michael shares his passion with the next generation of his family. One of the most memorable events was the 2010 Relay for Life. Michael’s seven-year-old daughter saw the power of a large group of organizations coming together. During the tribute portion of the event, she saw her grandparents’ names and as their lamps became brighter, it left an immense impact on her.
Michael’s hope for the future is the continuation of research dollars, increased support for studies, grants and drug trials, and support from organizations like WICC. As the next generation of Canadians dedicate their lives to cancer research, his message to them is, “Keep us motivated. Keep us inspired. And keep us hopeful about seeing cancer eradicated one day.”
Michael Butler is Senior Business Development Consultant at Vale Base Metals.