Joannie Rochette: From the Heart

iheartmom t-shirts were given as a thank you gift to judges and volunteers.

More than usual, the 2010 Minto Summer Skate competition last August was filled with heart.

The 25th anniversary celebration was especially relevant for one of Canada’s oldest skating institutions.

The competition raised $3,800 for iheartmom, a campaign initiated by Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute to raise awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death of women in Canada.

Event organizers usually presented a thank-you gift to the judges and volunteers who work at the event, but this year they came up with a unique idea. As Minto club administrator Colleen Karam explained, the traditional gifts were replaced by iheartmom T-shirts that were purchased by the club.

The judges and volunteers “goodie bags” also included heart-shaped chocolates and a card with a special message: “We appreciate all the time and energy you have committed to our event and on behalf of iheartmom, the Heart Institute and The Minto Skating Club, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart.”

Spectators and skaters also had the opportunity to purchase the T-shirts. Paper hearts were also sold for $2, which fans posted on the Minto Skating Club Wish Wall after inscribing them with best wishes for a skater at the event. All proceeds were donated to iheartmom.

Rochette stopped in during the four-day event and “signed as many T-shirts as she could,” Karam said. “It turned out really well.”

The iheartmom campaign was launched in memory of Rochette’s mother, Théresè, who died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack just four days before her daughter won Olympic bronze last February.

Originally published in December 2010