It’s been seven years since Orléans resident and mother of three, Gina Meritkas-Lacvitoire was a breast cancer patient at the Ottawa Hospital. It’s been six years since Gina and her mother Katerina first produced a calendar using Katerina’s brilliant artwork to help raise funds for clinical trial research.
|Gina Mertikas, right, and her mother Katerina have raised over $40,000 to help fund clinical trials for breast cancer through the first five editions of their calendar. PHOTO SUPPLIED
Since then the dynamic duo have produced a series of five calendars and raised over $40,000 in the process. The money has been put to good use, helping to fund a clinical trial that has revolutionized a certain type of treatment now used around the world.
“Every year and every development brings more hope that a breakthrough will be made in treating breast cancer, which is why we call them Calendars of Hope,” says Gina.
Seven years ago, a grateful Gina was looking for a way to give back after her successful cancer treatment.
“After my treatment was done, and I was told that I would be able to watch my children grow up, that’s when I put the wheels in motion to help others,” says Mertikas-Lavictoire. “I asked my oncologist, Dr. Mark Clemons — who’s one of the best doctors in the world — ‘how can I give back?’ I needed to do something to give back.”
Fortunately Gina’s mother, Katerina, is an accomplished artist with an established fol-lowing in Ottawa and around the country. The two women put their heads together and the idea of printing an art calendar was born.
The calendars are as popular as ever, largely due to Katerina’s beautiful artwork and the worthy cause the calendars support.
“It’s been awesome,” says Gina. “People really love my mother’s artwork and they look forward now for the new calendar to come out.”
Katerina paints various scenes all year long with the idea that some of them will be ultimately used in the calendar.
The two women regularly get together over a coffee or a glass of wine to go through everything and pick a scene to go with each month and season. As an added bonus, people have the opportunity to buy the original artwork of the paintings that appear in the calendar, the cost of which depends on the size of the paintings. A percentage of each painting sold will be added to the funds raised through the sale of the calendars.
During the first year, the calendars mostly sold through word of mouth and social media. Now they sell practically by themselves. Gina has already received orders from people who bought several of the past editions of the calendar. And they’ve even come from across North America and even Britain.
They sold close to 500 calendars last year and they’ve already received orders for 150 calendars this year even though the Ottawa Hospital Foundation has only recently put them on their GiveShop online marketplace page.
The calendars cost $25 each and can be ordered by e-mailing Gina directly at firstname.lastname@example.org