The union representing St. Albert's firefighters and paramedics has partnered with the Edmonton-based brewery Sea Change to make a new beer, the partial sales of which will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
The beer, a “tart pink-lemonade ale” called Pink Sails, is set to hit store shelves on Sept. 29, and for every 4-pack sold a dollar will go towards breast cancer research.
Steph Fedoruk, a seventh year firefighter paramedic in St. Albert, told the Gazette that Pink Sails is actually the second specialty beer that IAFF Local #2130 and Sea Change have collaborated on to raise money for cancer research. In 2021, Sea Change produced some 2,500 litres of a sour beer called Pink Anchor, the sales of which were enough to raise between $3,000 and $4,000, Fedoruk said.
“It was more money than we have ever raised for breast cancer,” she said, adding that the partnership came together seamlessly due to being close friends with Sea Change's co-founders, Ian and Loni McIntosh.
“It was a huge hit.”
Despite the partnership between IAFF Local #2130 and Sea Change entering its second year, Fedoruk said there's a renewed feeling of importance behind the fundraiser this year, as the mother of firefighter paramedic Greg O'Neil, co-chair of the union's breast cancer committee, passed away on Sept. 25 after a short stay in hospice care with end-stage breast cancer.
“That's really hard on him and we've been working together for multiple years on this, so that drives me as well,” Fedoruk said.
“That's a big one — we fight for her.”
For this year's fundraiser some 10,000 litres of Pink Sails have been brewed, canned, and prepped for delivery.
“I'm super excited about it,” Fedoruk said, adding that 10,000 litres of beer comes out to 21,000 cans.
“It'll be in liquor stores and on tap (at Sea Change's taprooms) until it sells out, and I know that it was sold out before the end of the month last time so I'm going to assume that it's going be pretty successful this year.”
Ian McIntosh said it was obvious they needed to make more of the speciality brew after how quickly the 2021 version sold out.
“It went great last (time), but we just didn't make enough,” he said.
“This year, hopefully, we've solved that problem and we'll be able to raise more money, (and) we can try to have it available in stores for the entire month of October, for the entire breast cancer awareness month.”
The Canadian Cancer Society says breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in Canada with more than 28,000 women estimated to be diagnosed last year and it has also struck close to home for McIntosh.
“I have a personal history with that, my mom actually passed away from complications due to breast cancer when I was eight,” McIntosh said. “That would have been 1995, so quite a while ago now, and it tugs at the heartstrings.”
“Through different ways I've raised money for breast cancer throughout my entire life, so this is another opportunity to do that with Sea Change.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that over 5,000 Canadian women died as a result of breast cancer last year alone, which represents about 14 per cent of all cancer deaths for women.
“(One in eight) women are expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime and one in 34 will die of it,” the agency's website states.