Breast cancer group apologizes for dumped T-shirts

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation says volunteers should not have thrown out T-shirts following a race in Red Deer supporting breast cancer research.
A handful of unused 'Run for the Cure' T-shirts dumped at a storage yard in Red Deer. By Tuesday morning, the dumpster had been emptied. (Courtesy Jean-Marc Leshman)

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation says volunteers should not have thrown out T-shirts following a recent charity run in Red Deer supporting breast cancer research.

Run for the Cure official Judy Poon said the T-shirts should not have been thrown out.
"I wanted to, first of all, apologize to the general public and our sponsors and our donors for this unfortunate error," Judy Poon, prairies director for Run for the Cure, told CBC News Tuesday.

"It's not our intent to be wasteful. We want to be as efficient as possible so we can put as much money towards breast cancer research."

Jean-Marc Leshman was gathering materials for work from a storage room at Sentinel Storage on 47th Street in Red Deer on Sunday when he came across a dumpster full of white "Run for the Cure" T-shirts.

Poon said the Cancer Foundation's policy is to donate unused T-shirts to a charity that sends them to developing countries overseas.

"We do recognize the need to re-communicate and reinforce those policies."

'I couldn't believe it'

In a video Leshman shot and sent to CBC News, T-shirts in neat rolls, bound with elastic bands, are stuffed into boxes and garbage bags.

Jean-Marc Leshman, who found the T-shirts, lost his mother to cancer years ago. (CBC)
"I couldn't believe it," Leshman, who lost his mother to cancer, told CBC News Monday.

"Just so wasteful. I can't even imagine that we even consider that acceptable."

Leshman estimated there were more than 2,000 T-shirts in the dumpster, although Poon disputed that figure, saying it was closer to 250 shirts.

'Just so wasteful'—Jean-Marc Leshman

The annual Run for the Cure, which is organized by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, raised more than $30 million during the last event, held Oct. 2. Red Deer was one of 59 communities that held races.

At first, Leshman thought the T-shirts were dumped by accident, but a staff person at the storage yard told him they were deliberately discarded.

On Tuesday morning, he visited the storage yard again to discover that the dumpster had been emptied.

Error surprises former race organizer

The cost of printing "Run for the Cure" T-shirts is usually covered by corporate sponsors.

Rita Hemmes-Davis, former vice-chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, says unused T-shirts should always be donated. (CBC)
This year, T-shirts were provided free to racers who paid an entry fee or raised $150 or more, in the case of adults.

Rita Hemmes-Davis, a former vice-chair of the Breast Cancer Foundation board, said in her experience, T-shirts were always given to charity after races.

"If we had some left over, they could go to the homeless or Youth Emergency Shelter or some place like that," she said.

"People are proud to wear them all year."