May 17, 2024

Double-matched funds contribute to Giving Day 2024 success

Annual fundraiser brings in dollars and donors supporting research, student experience and more
a young woman in a graduation cap and gown posing for a photo outdoors with a young man
Kaylie Green celebrates her 2013 graduation at the University of Calgary with her brother Jarred. Courtesy of the Green family

When she was a little girl, Kaylie Green fell in love with space, devouring books on astronomy, rewatching movies about astronauts and convincing her parents to take her to the Calgary Science Centre over and over again.

To no one’s surprise, Kaylie declared one day that she wanted to become an astronomer.

Pursuing that dream brought her to the University of Calgary where she earned an honours degree in astrophysics. Kaylie, BSc’13, then went to the University of Alberta to complete a master’s in physics. Then it was off to the University of Western Ontario, where, in the process of working on her PhD in astronomy, she died from heart complications at age 32 on March 31, 2023.

Devastated by their daughter’s death, Rick and Ingrid Green decided to raise funds in Kaylie’s name for the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory Development (RAO) Fund. A fitting tribute, as the RAO happened to be Kaylie’s favourite place in the world.

“She couldn’t get enough of the RAO. She probably would have lived there if she could,” says Kaylie’s fiancé, Kyle Rae, BSc’09, MSc’14. “Kaylie was a beautiful person who showed compassion for all human beings. We want to do our best to make sure that she is not forgotten. She always wanted to make an impact in astronomy.

“Since Kaylie’s journey was cut short, we want to try and keep the momentum going.”

a man and woman, smiling, sitting on a couch with a large dog wearing a santa hat

Kaylie Green shares a laugh with her fiancé Kyle Rae, along with pooch Riley, during the 2018 Christmas break in Calgary.

Courtesy of the Green family

The fund will help address upgrades that Dr. Phil Langill, BSc’85, PhD’94, director of the RAO and associate professor (teaching) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has identified — such as moving one telescope from the observatory to darker skies and re-equipping it for enhanced education, research and discovery.

During UCalgary’s recent Giving Day — UCalgary’s annual fundraising drive during which the university matches eligible gifts — the Green family offered an additional $100,000 to match donations made in Kaylie’s name, which, in effect, tripled the impact of gifts.

“We wanted to provide funds to help update the RAO,” says Ingrid. “Kaylie’s last Christmas at home — a few months before she died — we were driving by the RAO and she said that, if the opportunity ever arose, she would devote time and energy at making the RAO the best it could be.”

One of the top-performing funds for Giving Day 2024, the Kaylie Green Memorial Fund generated more than $67,000 in gifts from 156 donors.

“We are ecstatic with the response,” says Rick. “We were especially happy to raise significant funds for a facility that sometimes get overlooked. Kaylie was an advocate for trying to find ways to attract more funding for astronomy.”

The Green family’s initiative was only one part of another very successful Giving Day.

The fundraising blitz — which supports student awards and experiences, research, faculty initiatives and more — raised an incredible $2.34 million, thanks to the generosity of nearly 2,400 UCalgary alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends.

three people pose with a life-size model of a shark, against an aquarium background

Kaylie Green, centre, and her parents, Ingrid and Rick, enjoy a visit to an aquarium during their family holiday to Barcelona, Spain, in 2013.

Courtesy of the Green family

Additional gift matching boosts donors’ giving power

Kaylie’s fund was not the only initiative to feature a double match during Giving Day. Several initiatives across the university attracted additional matching funds from donors, tripling the impact of gifts.

Students’ Greatest Needs Fund

The UCalgary Alumni Association Board once again matched all alumni-made donations to the Students’ Greatest Needs Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance to students who can’t afford basic necessities.

“Giving Day is a massive help,” says Megan MacKay, BSW’19, a registered social worker with UCalgary’s Student Wellness Services. “To offer something that is relatively easy to put together, relatively quick to administer, it really helps students feel that the university supports them.”

With 86 donors contributing more than $9,000, the fund, while facing rising demand, continues its on-campus efforts, which most often comes in the form of grocery gift cards.

Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Research Fund

As part of the OWN.CANCER campaign — which aims to raise $250 million to accelerate research innovations and provide world-leading cancer care — the Cancer Prevention and Risk Reduction Research Fund aims to advance prevention measures such as early detection.

Additional matching dollars were provided by donors Glen and Erin Rumpel, helping attract 40 donors and nearly $20,000 to the fund.

“We are proud to be supporters of cancer care and research through the OWN.CANCER campaign,” the Rumpels said in an email. “Specifically, we are pleased to help advance research around cancer prevention and screening that will save lives and reduce the burden of cancer in the population.”

Bone and Joint Health Research-EDUCATE Program

Gifts to the EDUCation And Training Excellence (EDUCATE) program increase the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health’s capacity to train students. And those gifts went even further this Giving Day, with an anonymous donor providing matching funds. Nearly $3,000 was raised, with contributions from 13 donors.

“Trainees in the McCaig Institute are critical members of the teams we build as we strive to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of bone, muscle and joint conditions for all,” says Dr. Cheryl Barnabe, MSc’11, MD, director of the McCaig Institute. “The EDUCATE fund ensures we can continue to support these student researchers who will become leaders in bone and joint research in Alberta for the decades to come, while also allowing us to recruit the best and brightest talent to the Institute.”

The overall goal is to create a $5-million endowment to sustain the EDUCATE program in perpetuity, supporting learners now and well into the future.

Hustle with Hunt Spin-a-Thon for MIST

Another philanthropist creating a double match was Dr. Rob Hunt, who, as champion of the Hustle with Hunt Spin-a-Thon, offered $10,000 in matching funds for the second year — all in support of the Mental Health Initiative for Stress and Trauma (MIST) at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

“I’m thrilled with the success of the Spin-a-Thon again this year and happy to have stayed connected with MIST,” says Hunt, a Calgary dentist who was inspired to get involved after learning about MIST. “Thanks to this incredible initiative, impressive work is underway at the University of Calgary to drive discoveries and solutions to help those struggling with mental health. I look forward to continuing to champion this important work.”

The Spin-a-Thon attracted 194 donors, who gave more than $46,000 in support of MIST.

a man speaks into a microphone while two other people look on

Dr. Rob Hunt (right) addresses participants at the Hustle with Hunt Spin-a-Thon, in support of the Mental Health Initiative for Stress and Trauma (MIST), on April 13, 2024, at the King Eddy in Calgary.

Laura James

Missed out on Giving Day? You can still make a difference by donating at any time to an area that’s meaningful to you.

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