A former Miss Teen Kamloops continues to make her mark.
Vahnessa Espig has been honoured for the best overall Shinerama fundraising campaign for cystic fibrosis research.
“UBC showed outstanding dedication across many months in the area of recruitment, fundraising and awareness,” states the Cystic Fibrosis Canada organization awards announcement. “This enabled them to bring in a total of just under $40,000, a 66 per cent increase than their previous year.”
Shinerama is Canada’s largest post-secondary fundraiser involving 60 university and college campuses. It began in 1964 as a shoe-shining campaign, and has since grown to include a wide variety of activities in hopes to find a cure or a way to control cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is the most common, fatal genetic disease affecting young Canadians affecting mainly the lungs and the digestive system.
Espig has a history of helping causes, participating in such events as Relay For Life and Free the Children.
Last year, the 21-year-old third-year university student led a team of UBC volunteers to the top by striving to achieve more than the annual fundraising event typically requires.
She and her teammates took the initiative to talk to people with cystic fibrosis to get a sense of what it’s like to live with the disease.
“When you can put a face to what you’re doing, you become just so passionate,” she said.
The campaign usually runs from May to September, but the team just kept going with barbecues, selling glow sticks at Vancouver’s Celebration of Lights, car washes, online donations and fraternity and sorority events.
“We never really stopped. It was like why would we do that? It’s not like the problem is solved.”
Espig said participating in the months-long campaign was one of the most rewarding things she’s ever done.
“I don’t really like to praise myself, but I felt so accomplished. It was pretty much the most challenging and interesting and best experience that I’ve ever done in my life.”
She placed much of the praise on her team.
“To have the credit, not only for myself but for the team and for everyone who was involved… it was great.”
Espig is considering going to law school, and has recently joined the Elizabeth Fry Society as a community court volunteer.
She said she’s compelled to get involved in campaigns that improve her community and the quality of life for others.
“I just can’t stop volunteering. I love it.”