Can Too is a win - win
When Annie Crawford's father passed away from cancer at just 51, a fire burned inside her to join the fight against the disease.
Finding the way to do so, wasn't difficult for the Manly entrepreneur - who grew up with a love of being active.
Can Too is a not-for-profit organisation that offers participants a goal like a half-marathon or a triathlon or an ocean swim, and then provides them with qualified trainers to help them prepare and then achieve that goal - all for $150, which helps fund an Australian cancer researcher.
“The great thing about Can Too is it's also about prevention. Because we know exercise prevents cancer and other diseases, so by doing the swimming or the running or triathlon not only are you moving beyond your comfort zone and achieving things that you never thought but you're getting fitter and healthier and potentially preventing yourself from getting diseases like cancer, obesity and diabetes,” Ms Crawford tells Peninsula Living.
"On top of that, you raise $1250 to fund Australian cancer researchers in the early stages of their career, so it's a win-win."
She says cancer research has been neglected by the government, which is why she is so proud to have raised more than $16 million in the past decade.
“The government is cutting back a lot of funding for researchers, so now only 12 per cent of those researchers that could be funded are being funded and that means 88 per cent of the projects that could be finding that cure aren't being funded.
"So we're very proud to have already funded 135 researchers, and the researchers often come to training sessions to show their gratitude to the participants of our programs, which is a huge thrill for everyone - some even decide to join," she smiles.
There are plenty of events Can Too members are taking part in this year, and training for the SMH Half Marathon will begin soon. But all attention now turns to the Pittwater Ocean Swim series, specifically the Palm Beach to Whale Beach leg.
Participants including Ms Crawford, who has completed the iconic 2.7 km swim on multiple occasions, are well into their 12-week training program, which includes a weekly night swim at either Terrey Hills or Warringah, and a Saturday ocean swim at either Manly or Mona Vale.
Of the 300 entries in the Palm to Whale, there are swimmers of all abilities.
"We've got a lot of people that are really good swimmers and they're doing it more to raise funds or get fitter and faster, and then we've got people who have never done it before that want to achieve a goal. So we cater to all those, your experience doesn't matter, you just have to want to achieve a goal,” she explains.
"I pinch myself when I watch our incredible 'Can Tooers'. We've got hundreds of people in a run or hundreds doing a swim program and they're all taking ownership of it.”
It started with Ms Crawford hoping to get 20 people together to run a marathon and now there are hundreds training and competing all over Australia.
"I thought if I could raise $2,000 for cancer research that would be pretty good but I never imagined it was going to grow to this incredible size!" She beams.