For Cathy Buckingham, BA’79 (Hon.), a competitive swimmer from the time she was in elementary school in Scarborough, Ont., the talent and coaching of the university’s swim team in the late 70s was the deciding factor in her choosing to attend Western over Queen’s University.
A year into her degree in Physical Education though, Buckingham realized she had to give up her place as a member of the swim team to make time for a job.
“In order to put myself through school, I could not swim,” said Buckingham. “I needed to work.”
For this reason, Buckingham, who is currently president and CEO for the largest high-performance door company in Canada, TNR Industrial Doors in Barrie, Ont., makes consistent annual donations to Western’s swim team through the Adopt A Mustang program.
She gives so that current Western student-athletes won’t be forced into the same position of making a difficult decision between work and sport.
“It’s so important to help student-athletes, because without the proper funding, they just can’t do it,” said Buckingham. “Kids want to play hockey, for example, because they watch the pros and aspire to be like them. By supporting elite athletes, we can generate an understanding in our community of the value of sport, athletics and staying healthy and active.”
The Adopt A Mustang program aides with recruitment of exceptional student-athletes, supports the ongoing financial needs of Western’s sports teams, helps keep teams competitive on provincial, national and international levels, and allows athletes to focus on training rather than fundraising for their team.
For Buckingham, involvement in sport or athletics is about more than just the physical benefits – it’s also about gaining transferrable skills, such as discipline and preparedness, which round you out as a person.
“You don’t have to be the best athlete to gain something from the world of athletics. Experiences in sport and team play can help you understand and navigate interrelationships in the business world and life as well,” she said. “It feels really good to give back to something that gave so much to me.”
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