Fundraiser at The Thirsty Penguin Pub

Near Vancouver, B.C. Charlene Doberstein’s dining room set could very well be quite lovely. It’s a little tough to tell these days, with it buried under a mountain of stuff.

Every square inch of her table top is covered — whether it be cellophane- wrapped gift baskets, Barbie dolls, electronic kitchen gadgets, bottles of wine or sporting equipment. On the floor are larger items, tucked up against the table or into a corner to maintain a clear path to the kitchen.

No, she’s not the subject for an upcoming episode of Hoarders.

In a few weeks, all the items will be gone, when they’re auctioned off as part of her pub night in support of Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Since she began planning the Aug. 27 fundraiser, Doberstein has been busy visiting local businesses to collect donations and organizing a series of fundraising events to help her raise the entry fee for the Florida half-marathon, which will take place this October.

Her husband, Trent, is running, too.

Between them, the couple must raise $8,200 for the charity in order to participate in the TNT run, which will take place at night inside Disney World and Epcot Centre. So far, they’ve raised $3,300.

Each $4,100 entry fee covers participants’ travel and accommodation costs, with roughly 75 per cent of the funds going directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

And while the upcoming pub night will be the couple’s major fundraiser, it’s by no means their first.

So far, they’ve sold doughnuts and held a garage sale — with the vast majority of the items sold coming courtesy of their neighbours, for which the couple is profoundly thankful.

“I’m not a pack rat. If I haven’t used it for a year, it goes,” said Doberstein.

Every Wednesday afternoon, she takes donated bottles and cans to the local return centre. While she’s there, she asks other people if they’d like to donate the proceeds from their own recyclables to the cause. Eighty per cent say yes, she estimates.

On Sept. 3, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. there will be a benefit show at the Walnut Grove Wired Monk, featuring live music by up and coming local artists. All money donated at the event will go toward the Dobersteins’ efforts on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

But, what makes this event extra special to the Penguin Post is the pub night fundraiser will take place at the Thirsty Penguin, above Twin Rinks on the Langley Bypass. There will be a raffle, as well as a toonie toss and other fundraising efforts taking place throughout the evening.

“This is our big one,” said Doberstein.

The couple decided to join Team in Training last April, after seeing a brochure while they were out having breakfast.

“I said, ‘I’m going to check it,’ out and Trent said, ‘Sign me up, too,’” she recalled.

On her first outing, the self-described couch potato couldn’t run two blocks up a gentle hill without getting winded and sore.

Now, she can put 14 kilometres behind her and feel good the next day.

Unlike the other runners in their group of 45, Doberstein and her husband didn’t know anyone who’d had, or was currently diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma.

Then, she read a Langley Times article about Anne Dent, a Langley City woman who had not only beaten leukemia, but had kicked its ass, while keeping her sense of humour and never-say-die attitude intact.

“Her whole attitude was so positive,” said Doberstein — “’This is my life. I’m going to own it, cancer isn’t going to own it.’

“I thought, ‘I have to do something.’ So I called her.”

The two women met and Doberstein asked whether Dent would allow her to run on her behalf.

“Now she teases me — ‘Don’t you wish you were a couch potato?’”

Since joining TNT, Doberstein has heard a number of touching stories — from the 24-year-old woman who beat leukemia, thanks to drugs discovered within the last few years as a result of funded research, to her running partner, Tony, who missed the first few training sessions because he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment in his own cancer battle.

The stories have helped to inspire her and to put her own pain into perspective, she said. After all, it’s not likely she’ll complain about a sore foot to a man who’s undergoing chemo.

The personal physical benefits of training have been more than she expected, too, said Doberstein.

“If you join a gym or go on a diet, you’re going to spend $4,100 anyway.

“This way, it’s going to a good cause.”

“We did it to get in shape, but the health benefits have been that we have more energy and a more positive outlook. The stupid little things don’t annoy us anymore.”

Tickets for Doberstein’s Aug. 27 pub night in support of TNT are $18 each. She will also be accepting donations outside Club Colour, 20494 Fraser Hwy. during Arts Alive celebrations on Saturday, Aug. 21.

For tickets or information about any of Doberstein’s fundraising efforts, call her at 604-888-7410.

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