Rachel – Our Inspiration

Since 2004, RACH Fund has raised over $910,000 for Cancer Research by Dr. Jonathan Irish and his team, in support of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and over the last several years to Cancer Care at West Parry Sound Health Centre. The RACH Fund was created in 2004 by Rachel Anne Cecelia Higgins and her mother, Joanne Higgins, and continues today in honour of Dr. Rachel Anne Cecelia Higgins.

Rachel’s goal with starting the RACH 3 Pitch Tournament , was to bring together family, friends and community to raise money for brain tumour research, educate those around her of the disease she was battling, help others like herself; while at the same time having fun playing ball and spending the weekend with good friends and family.

Sadly Rachel lost her battle in August 2005, however her mother, family, community and many friends are continuing to raise money to make a difference for those living with cancer. 

The University of Waterloo, where Rachel attended the School of Optometry, honoured Rachel through recognizing her hard work and determination.  Please read of the University of Waterloo’s recognition of her upon her passing, on page 12 of their Newsletter; and their ongoing recognition of her tenacity and courage with the RACH Memorial Award given each year to an Optometry Student and the planting of a tree in her honour.

“Rachel demonstrated suitably high levels of intelligence, desire, compassion, professionalism, clinical proficiency and academic prowess for us to conclude that she was destined to successfully complete the doctor of optometry program,” said Dr. Graham Strong in a speech at the planting service on behalf of the School of Optometry. “I am pleased that the University of Waterloo will be granting Rachel this well-deserved victory by posthumously awarding the doctor of optometry that she strived so valiantly to obtain. The distinction associated with any university degree is ultimately determined by the quality of the people who obtain it. Dr. Rachel Higgins will forever remind us of the quality of graduates to which we aspire.” Rachel’s family described the ceremony as “extremely moving and emotional.” Additionally, Rachel’s class established the Rachel Anne Cecilia Higgins Memorial Award that was awarded to her friend Erin Axt. The award, honours individuals demonstrating undefeatable courage, strength, perseverance and determination while confronting significant challenges in their lives

Proudly, the RACH Fund; through the Annual 3-Pitch Tournament and donations, has raised over $910,000!

The majority of our donations have gone directly to research at Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, headed by Dr. Jonathan Irish, Chief of the Department of Surgical Oncology at the University of Health Network.

All profits and donations contributed go towards the research into Image-guided therapeutics, or GTx.  Dr. Jonathon Irish has commented that image guided surgery will save lives.  GTx integrates imaging technologies to provide a kind of GPS for cancer surgeons where surgical tools, and the surgical target and surrounding anatomy are visualized  precisely in “real time” three-dimensional images.  The surgeon can accurately pinpoint cancer cells and tumours and then remove them without harming the surrounding  structures or healthy tissue.  Patients will benefit from faster recovery times and enhanced quality of life during and after treatment.  Image guided therapeutics is the future in the fight against cancer.

Click Here To learn more about Image-guided therapeutics (GTx)

Over the last several years, a portion of the funds raised have been donated to the local community hospital Foundation – West Parry Sound Health Centre Foundation, Cancer Care Department to give back to the community that hosts this amazing event each year.  In 2017, all the proceeds from the Silent Auction, Fish Fry, Beer Tent and any funds specifically directed to WPSHC Cancer Care during the Tournament weekend were donated to WPSHCF – Cancer Care as a tribute to Rachel’s brother, Aaron Higgins who passed away in December 2016 from cancer. This donation was very important to Aaron from his role as a physician in the hospital and his recognition of the need for funding for cancer care in the Parry Sound community and because of the care given during his personal battle and that of his sister, Rachel;  the donation to WPSHC grew from Concession stand proceeds which had been donated over the previous 5 years.  WPSCHF, Cancer Care received approximately $44,000 in 2017 which was used to purchase a colonoscope.