TORONTO — Mitch Krystantos, an active volunteer in the oncology unit at the Hospital for Sick Children, knows that beating cancer is not an easy battle.
After attending more funerals than weddings in the past year, he said he felt obligated to become even more involved in helping those who are suffering from the disease.
When Krystantos heard about Fight to End Cancer (FTEC), he immediately agreed to take part in the event.
Held on May 31 at the Old Mill Inn, FTEC will feature business leaders from across the city pitted against each other in boxing matches. The Las Vegas-style black-tie affair will also include a gourmet dinner and celebrity entertainment.
The third annual gala will raise funds for high-priority research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre as well as for What Are You Fighting For – a program that provides opportunities to exceptional youth in the community.
“I decided to get involved for many reasons, one of which was to see how far I could push myself,” said Krystantos, vice-president of operations and marketing at Las Vegas Connexx.
“The main reason was to fight for those who have lost their battle to cancer and the ones who are still fighting. I want them to know that the fight will continue until a cure is found.”
Krystantos said his experience of volunteering for 15 years at Sick Kids has been very humbling. “These kids did not ask to have cancer. They are stuck with it. Yet they are some of the most positive people I have ever met, always smiling.
“These kids have fought harder than I have ever had to. Stepping into the ring on May 31 and getting punched in the face won’t be fun, but neither is having cancer. Whatever I have to go through on fight night is nothing compared to what someone with this disease has to go through every day.”
To prepare for his boxing match, Krystantos has been training at the Kingsway Boxing Club with coaches Virgil Barrow and Jennifer Huggins, founder of FTEC.
The members of the 2014 fight team have undergone a rigorous six-month introduction to the techniques of Olympic-style boxing – training that culminates in a fight that consists of a rapid three rounds in six minutes.
Currently, FTEC is seeking more boxers, as well as sponsors who want to get directly involved.
To date, Krystantos has personally raised almost $8,000 for cancer research and awareness. The entire fight team has raised more than $30,000, he said.
FTEC tickets range from $225 for a single seat to $2,000 for a 10-seat table.
For more information or to donate, visit www.fighttoendcancer.com.