When something tragic happens to somebody you hold so dear to your heart, you want to do what you can to help make a change that way someone else down the road doesn’t have to experience the same thing. For CFL guard Taylor Robertson, whose mother passed away from breast cancer when he was only seven years old, tackling breast cancer and doing what he can to raise awareness for the disease is something that has meant a lot to him throughout the course of his life.
“I’ve been doing this stuff since I was in high school. When I was at the University of Central Florida I did a lot of charity work; such as visits to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, served a lot of Thanksgiving dinners at churches, did speaking engagements for youth attention facilities and visited some jails in the Orlando area to talk to the kids who were in the drug program,” explained Robertson.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own cancer charity program,” he added. “Rather than partnering up with somebody, I can have my initiatives with my own awareness campaigns and goals, stuff to that nature.”
Taylor Robertson was selected by the Calgary Stampeders with the 11th overall pick in the second round of the 2003 CFL Draft and helped make an impact in the city of Calgary and to Stampeders Nation in no time.
“When I went to Calgary in my first year as a pro, I did numerous events with the Stampeders and helped set up a partnership with the Stampeders and theCanadian Cancer Society that is still in play until this day,” said the 2007 CFL Eastern All-Star.
“While doing everything in Calgary with the Canadian Cancer Society; all the events, promos, meetings, press conferences, etc., in the back of my mind I always thought it’d be great to have my own initiative one day,” described Robertson. “I was very contempt with what we were doing though as we were helping in the building stages of something that is huge,“ he added. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do when it came to giving back to the community and how I would do it and this kind of put everything into perspective for me and gave me a better understanding.”
Although Taylor played a huge role in Calgary, especially during the 2006 season when he helped contribute to Joffrey Reynolds’ CFL leading 1,609 rushing yards, he was traded to the Toronto Argonauts during the offseason in exchange for a 1st and a 3rd Round pick in the 2007 CFL Canadian Draft. For Taylor, the move took him away from everything he established in Calgary and everything that he helped with since he arrived, but he was excited to come to Toronto to bring the awareness to a different city.
“Being in Toronto and being on more of a national scale, it has allowed me to do things I couldn’t have done in Calgary, like helping out in the planning and launching of the CFL Pink,” stated the three-time Argos nominee for Outstanding Lineman. “The awareness level in the city of Calgary, we did a lot of great things there, but now that we’re in Toronto and I started my own program, we’ve been able to reach out to different markets and not just one locally.”
“When I came to Toronto, I participated in some Argos programs like the Huddle-Up Against Bullying Prevention program where we went around to schools in the GTA and spoke to the children about anti-bullying and I was also a mentor in The Argos Foundation’s Youth Mentorship Program,” he added.
In September of 2010, Taylor Robertson accomplished what he has always set out to do and that’s creating his own cancer-related charity. Taylor created Life On The Line; a non-profit initiative that supports breast cancer research and helps raise awareness by activating the community, especially men, through events and other awareness programs, as well as helping to raise funds for breast cancer research.
“The one message I always try to convey out there is that breast cancer is a dominantly female disease but men can get breast cancer and the rates are very low, but they’re still there,” expressed Robertson. “The odds of getting breast cancer as a woman is 1 in 9 and for every woman who comes across the disease, there’s a man behind the scenes whether it be a husband, a boyfriend, a father, a brother, a son,” he continued. “There’s someone out there that needs to be there for support and can be educated, whether it’s before, during prevention, during a self-check, during treatment or after treatment.”
Throughout his CFL career, Taylor has continuously worked with the league and the community to help raise the awareness of breast cancer. His community events and programs that he makes available through Life On The Line have raised thousands of dollars over the years for breast cancer research. He understands how vital it is to raise the awareness through sports because with the demographic in professional sports being predominantly males, he needs to connect with them on a level where they’ll be able to get the information across about any Pink events or runs that are going on to help raise awareness.
“We’re trying to get the message out there and with the CFL helping out with the CFL Pink, it has been huge,” explained Robertson. “For every woman that has cancer, there’s a man behind that so we’re trying to incorporate that into sports as much as possible.”
For the many various programs Life On The Line has to offer, Robertson’s personal favourite of their signature programs is the Breast Brunch Ever program which is a brunch they have on Mother’s Day in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. For Taylor, this is his favourite program because he feels that it really gets the message across to the community.
“We made it a point to give out awareness kits in the gift bags at the brunch,” said Taylor. “We wanted people to go home and learn about the risks and more importantly the prevention that they can take. Someone happened to use those tools that we gave out and they came across something that needed further investigation and now they have a clean bill of health and that’s what this is all about,” he added. “We’re not trying to be lifesavers here, because we can’t, we’re just trying to help raise awareness for this disease and help prevent it,” he concluded.
Taylor Robertson understands that his professional football career will not last forever, but he does realize that the events the CFL and the teams that he plays for throughout his career host year after year will not be going anywhere anytime soon. The programs and events will continue to not only help raise awareness, but will continue to raise money as well for breast cancer research. Even after his career comes to an end, the programs and events that are in play to help raise awareness will not be expiring anytime soon. Year after year more and more people will come on board hoping to some day wipe out the disease entirely.
For more information on Life On The Line, visit http://lifeontheline.ca/home
For details about the Breast Brunch Ever, visit http://www.breastbrunchever.com/