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Men with axes invade Leaside!

Shane Skillen and Tyler Lang prepare for the Men with Axes fundraiser. Photo by Ginny Clark Hicks.

Leasiders travelling on Esandar Dr. behind Longo’s on the evening of Sat., Oct. 14 might be startled to see a number of men throwing axes in the parking lot of Amsterdam Brewery. They might think they’ve stumbled onto a movie set in the Middle Ages or a lumberjack camp. In fact, it’s the site of a fundraising event held by Bessborough Elementary and Middle School, their second annual “Men with Axes” evening.

Axe-throwing tournaments, the latest fad in recreational and team-building activities, are also a popular form of fundraising. Leaside’s upcoming event for swinging dads is run by BATL Axe Throwing Co., which has been in business since 2006 and has several locations across Canada. The evening starts off with expert instruction in the art of axe-throwing, followed by a tournament, and concluding with a prime rib dinner, prizes and auctions.

The organizers of the event are Bessborough fathers Tyler Lang, Shane Skillen and Chad Iwata, who are very enthusiastic about their goals for the evening: a chance for dads to bond, raise funds for the school and for a community outreach program, and enable local sponsors to promote themselves in the neighbourhood. Last year’s event had about 100 participants and raised roughly $15,000.

Previous sponsors of the event included Leaside Orthodontic Centre, The Local Public Eatery, Adamson Barbecue, Valu-Mart, Eastern Meat Solutions and M&S Auto Centre, and it is expected these sponsors – and possibly more – will sign on. In addition, there are door and raffle prizes as well as silent and live auctions featuring donated items such as signed sports memorabilia and tickets, vouchers for children’s camps and restaurant gift certificates.

Fundraising events like this one help Bessborough purchase sports equipment, musical instruments, library books and technology upgrades. In addition, the funds are used to ensure that all students have access to every school event regardless of their financial situation.

This year’s “Men with Axes” event has another purpose behind it: to raise funds to purchase a reading program called Empower Reading from the Hospital for Sick Children for another school, Victoria Village Public School, which has been unable to obtain the $5,000 needed for the program itself.

This intense, teacher-centred program has been used at Bessborough for struggling readers for the last three years with great success; in fact, some students who could not read before are now reading stories and novels. Principal Patricia Broderick, who initiated the use of Empower Reading at the school, is so impressed with it that she wants to help disadvantaged schools get it too.

As Shane Skillen said, “This attitude of outreach provides a good example for young minds to be exposed to a community-minded value system.”

“Tickets are still available,” said Mr. Lang, “and we would love to extend the evening to other men and dads throughout Leaside.”

If you have what it takes to wield that axe, contact the dad-organizers at www.menwithaxes.com and savour a new experience.