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When family and friends come together

Mark Cooper
Mark Cooper says he has seen more than his share of familial cancer, and if there’s one thing he’s learned: research is impacting lives

“Advancements in the field are so rapid, and they are making a big impact,” says the vice president at Quantum Lifecycle Partners LP.

Mark’s father, Toronto lawyer Gerald “Herk” Cooper, was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in 2015. A year later, the cancer had evolved into acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. Sadly, he passed away just five months later, in February 2017. In 2019, Gerald’s younger brother was diagnosed with the same cancer and while he also passed away, he had a good quality of life for two years.

“Advances in the treatment of AML extended my uncle’s life by four times. So that’s why we raise money for Sunnybrook and specifically for cancer. It’s the least any of us can do to support new research and all those people out there on the front line providing care for us,” says Mark.

Mark launched the Herk Cooper Invitational Golf Tournament to benefit the Complex Malignant Haematology Program at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Program. Between 2017 and 2022, the tournament raised more than $90,000 – with 72 golfers and a dozen corporate sponsors joining the July 13, 2022 event.

“It’s a memorial tournament named after my father, but every single person in the tournament has been affected by cancer in some way. That brings us all together and focuses our efforts,” says Mark.

Mark joins a generous and dedicated network of community event organizers and supporters across 135 different fundraising events for research, education and patient care at Sunnybrook that collectively raised more than
$4 million in 2021/22.

From runs, bike rides, golf tournaments, birthday celebrations, retirement gifts and more, community events demonstrate just how powerful it can be when a group of friends and family come together with a shared goal.

Mark first realized the power of grassroots fundraising years ago when he participated in a fundraising bike ride. An hour after setting up a donation page and emailing the link to friends, he had raised $2,500.

Mark and Alissa Cooper and their two sons
Mark and Alissa Cooper and their two sons were excited and proud to present Sunnybrook Foundation with a cheque from the 2022 Herk Cooper Invitational Golf Tournament.

“Now, I tell anyone thinking about raising money for a cause they believe in to just go for it,” says Mark. He hopes his experience inspires others to consider launching their own community fundraising events. “It doesn’t matter if your event turns out the way you expected or not, just get together with friends and family and raise money for a cause you believe in.”

“Whether it’s a dollar or thousands of dollars, it all makes a difference,” says Mark.