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Boob Tour fundraising event in Innisfail has record-setting show

New record set for generosity at a comedy show held in Innisfail's Royal Canadian Legion offering laughter and healing

INNISFAIL – Attendance was slightly down for this year’s Innisfail Boob Tour event compared to 2023 but it was the second consecutive record-setting fundraising total for its ongoing quest to find a cure for cancer.

The 11th annual Boob Tour for Innisfail on April 16 at the Innisfail Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104 attracted about 270 citizens who each paid $30 a ticket, which was about 30 short of a sell-out, which was the case in 2023.

However, Trish Proctor, chair of the Innisfail Boob Tour, said more than $17,000 was raised for the 2024 show, which is about $2,000 more than the 2023 record-setting event.

Before 2023, the annual event, which was led in sponsorship in 2023 and 2024 by Innisfail’s Field & Forge Brewing Co., had never before raised even more than $10,000.

“How do you even describe what the town did to help us do this year?’’’ wondered an elated Proctor. “It was the people that came out and supported us. That was all them, not us.”

Shortly after the legion’s doors opened at 6 p.m. the parking lot was filling up and the auditorium was already abuzz.

Some came for the show to see either Edmonton comic Kevin Singh or Brian Stollery, a Calgary-based comedian.

For many attending, cancer had touched their lives in some way, either through a family member, close friend, or co-worker who had faced the trial of their lives.

 “Through working at Discovery Wildlife Park we’ve had employees that we’ve lost to cancer, said Serena Bos, the head zookeeper who handles the local Boob Tour’s marketing and social media. “The park and myself devote everything we possibly can to help make a difference.
“And the thing I think is the coolest about the Boob Tour is that people don't realize every dime that it makes goes right to Red Deer’s Central Alberta Cancer Centre.”

It was more than a decade ago that members of Innisfail’s Rieberger family began the Boob Tour in Innisfail. It was a way to support and honour family members and community members afflicted with cancer; past, present and future.

Courtney Birkenshaw is Proctor’s cousin. She’s been involved in the Innisfail Boob Tour since it began when she was a teenager in Grade 10.

Her husband’s family has a rare stomach cancer gene, with his two sisters afflicted but still surviving and battling.

“And then there's also cousins, and his family that have also had it had their stomachs removed. Two of them have passed away of it,” said Birkenshaw. “Because of our families we’re both very involved.”

Being a part of the family’s younger generation once removed from the one who initiated Innisfail’s Boob Tour, Birkenshaw said it’s important she continue to remain part of local fight to battle cancer.

“I would like it to stay within the family, and hopefully keep getting a younger crowd as well. There isn’t a lot of the younger generation,” she said.

As well, she believes having fundraising centred around a comedy show is just the right tonic for the event.

“I believe in it 100 per cent. I think laughter is the best medicine,” said Birkenshaw. “If you're not having fun and enjoying yourself then it's easy to get down, especially in today's society. Laughter is a good way to cope and a good way to bring everyone's spirits up."

And the comics agree.

Stollery told the Albertan his cousin is currently going through breast cancer. His brother, a doctor, once told him something special.

“He said, ‘you’re the doctor Brian because you’re healing people as much as I am,” said Stollery. “There is an element of truth that humour does help heal.

“We need to laugh,” he added. “One hundred laughs equal 10 minutes of exercise, which means the people here tonight can sit there and laugh their butts right off.”

Singh is his comic colleague and friend.

He said he’s done cancer benefits in the past and feels they’re usually the best shows to do because “everybody wants to laugh.

“Humour is like a concealed weapon for us,” said Singh. “We have it. We love it. We just know the power of laughter.

“It’s really that magic elixir that's going to bring an entire group of strangers together in one room and just let them loose and have fun,” he added. “What’s better than that for your health?”


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