Despite living in a province that is mad for hockey, Mrs. Genevieve Bertrand much prefers to hear the crack of the bat and the phrase ‘up, up and away’ than the slap of a stick and the phrase ‘he shots, he scores’. Mrs. Bertrand is a huge baseball fan (emphasis on the word huge).
This summer she will combine her two passions: baseball and raising funds for ALS. Not only is Mrs. Bertrand Chair of the “Regroupement du baseball féminin de Montréal” but she is also co-chair of ALS Society of Canada and former Chair of the ALS Society of Québec.
This year, the women’s provincial baseball championship will be held in Montréal. In conjunction with the tournament, the Regroupement and The ALS Society of Québec are organizing a celebrity women’s softball game on August 1st at Park La Fontaine. Proceeds from the game will support research and people living with ALS. The team captain is actress Eve Duranceau and will include 12 other Montréal celebrities including actresses, musicians, stylists and musicians. They will play against an All-Star Team including Team Canada hockey players, Kim St-Pierre and Charline Labonté and comedian, Cathy Gauthier.
“The celebrity softball game is a great way to draw attention to the dire need to raise funds to support ALS,” says Mrs. Bertrand. “Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians currently live with this rapidly progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease. ALS is a disease without effective treatments or a cure yet. Research, which provides hope, and support for families are crucial.
The meaning of the work philanthropy is “love of humanity”
Mrs. Bertrand’s parents taught her at an early age that volunteering and giving to charity are the most noble of human endeavours. She has been an active volunteer for as long as she can remember. When only 17, she joined her first board of directors, l’Association de handball Olympique de Laval as treasurer. She went on to chair the board.
When she was growing up, Mrs. Bertrand’s uncle passed away from Multiple Sclerosis, which like ALS is a neurological disease. This sparked Mrs. Bertrand’s fascination with the brain and how the brain worked. When she was a kid, she would tell everyone she that wanted to grow up to be a brain surgeon.
“The human brain is the best computer ever made. I am fascinated by how it works. In the end, I did not pursue a medical degree but opted for a business degree instead,” says Mrs. Bertrand. “I wrote a novel thesis for my Master’s degree that explored memory and how the brain works tying this into creating software systems that manage every aspect of a company’s business. The title of my thesis was: “Knowledge transfer when implementing enterprise resource planning systems.”
She first became aware of ALS when her best friend Monique’s mom was diagnosed with the disease. Both mom and daughter were involved with the ALS Society of Quebéc and Mrs. Bertrand decided to lend a hand to have a better understanding the disease, to improve the quality of life of ALS patients and their families, to raise money to finally find treatments and eventually a cure.
Canada and Québec home to renowned ALS researchers
Mrs. Bertrand is excited by what she sees happening in the field of ALS research. She points out that Canada and particularly Québec is home to some of the best and most widely respected ALS scientists in the world.
She is also backed by ALS Canada’s 2014 vision that within 10 years ALS will be a treatable disease. To that end, the goal of the ALS Canada’s Strategic Plan for Research (2014-2017) is to develop at least one novel therapeutic strategy to slow the progression of ALS. To help achieve this goal, ALS Canada has dedicated $1-million dollars paid over three years to fund the Arthur J. Hudson Translational Team Grant. The spirit of this program is to bring together basic and clinical researchers from across the country to accelerate the development of therapeutics.
Mrs. Bertrand admits to being awed by the courage and tenacity of people battling ALS. “Volunteering with the ALS Society gives you perspective on your own minor ills and woes. I’ve met many people living this terrible disease. They are smiling, resilient and defiant. They are making the most of their lives when they could just as easily give up. This is what spurs me on to support the Society, raise funds to ensure those with the disease and their loved ones have a support network to help diminish their suffering. We simply don’t know enough about this disease and this is why we need donations that help lead researchers to a cure.”
Take me out to the ball game
The 2014 edition of the Celebrity Softball Game held in conjunction with Regroupement du baseball féminin de Montréal will take place on August 1st, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. (gates open at 6:00 pm) at Park La Fontaine.
The match will oppose two female teams comprising of sports, media or entertainement celebrities.