“Couple of idiots trying to make a difference. Thank you all for your continued support over the years.” -The Ruscheinski Twins
Two weeks after Shaun Gauthier went to the doctor with a stomach ache he was dead. A rockstar human being taken in the blink of an eye by a rare form of cancer called angiosarcoma. At twenty-eight years old, the death of Shaun G devastated the entire bar industry in Vancouver.
Jamie and Chris Ruscheinski first met Shaun in grade eight at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary. By grade ten they had formed a solid friendship after seeing each other at various parties and classes.
On graduation night they hung out together and hammered back a few beer while waiting for their limo to arrive. The Ruscheinski twins’ mom was there wearing her new platinum blonde wig as she had just finished undergoing chemo for breast cancer. She died the following year.
To say that cancer has had a massive impact on the twins would be a gross understatement. At the age of seventeen the boys had to figure out a way to pay the bills as their mom was in the middle of her three year battle with cancer. This is how Twins Cancer Fundraising was born.
“Thinking back to after our parents split, a couple years later our mom found out she had breast cancer. She had not made great decisions with money after the separation so Jamie and I found ourselves working a lot of overtime and second jobs after high school to help support her when she couldn’t work.”
“My dad (Dougie) had long fell in love with Marilyn (our awesome step-mom) but always had a soft spot for the mother of his boys. He knew we were hurting and wanted to help us in any way he could. He used to slip us cash to pass on to mom behind the scenes to help her out. This shows the true character of a father, long after a separation he still wanted to do the right thing and help his boys. This was just the start of his generosity.”
“After our mom lost her 3 year battle with breast cancer, we asked our dad if we could use his yard to host a cancer fundraiser. We called on numerous friends in the industry to donate prizes and ran a raffle that raised almost $20,000.00. We had over 200 guests on route with a 70% chance of showers.”
“Dad spent the entire day building posts and running a 100 foot tarp with event tents all over his yard. It poured rain that night and his grass was trampled and there was more than enough recycling and clean up to do. Marilyn, Dad and grandma had cleaned most of it before we got back to the house. Even after this massive clean up my dad was in a great mood.”
“Later we took the cash to the Canadian Cancer Society in a shoe box. They had no idea we were coming, we just dropped in to donate. The staff all came out and shook our hands and thanked us. My dad said ‘I have never been so proud of you boys’ It was a moment I will never forget.”
“The next year the party grew to 350 guests in Dad’s backyard. The police showed up and I remember our dad yelling at them that it was only 10pm! The police calmed him down and informed him that they were the police escort to take the cash down to the bank. The CCS had arranged a much safer way than an shoe box transport. He laughed it off and invited them in for coffee. He was very proud once again but we had outgrown Dougie’s Place.”
Twins Cancer Fundraising has since turned their backyard party into a massive undertaking known as Gone Country. Held every July, upwards of five thousand people come to party hard while screaming “F**k Cancer” at the top of their lungs. This year $275,000 was raised in a single day which will go toward purchasing an endoscopic ultrasound processor for the BC Cancer Agency.
When I first volunteered to bartend at Gone Country this year I will fully admit that my ignorant self was less than enthusiastic. A friend had asked me if I wanted to do it with him and I agreed not really knowing what I was getting myself into. That same friend bailed last minute because he had to go out of town.
I knew that it was an outdoor party and there was draught beer, thirty other bartenders, and I assumed it was country music. I’ve been to a few rodeos in my time and know exactly how much class and common sense would be involved. I would be forever pouring slag to a bunch of drunken fools while working for peanuts. Not my idea of a good time.
Gone Country takes place from 2pm until 11pm so we were supposed to show up at 1pm for orientation and training. A drinking event that starts at 2pm should pretty much guarantee that I’ll be cleaning up vomit and breaking up fights by around dinnertime. Wtf did I get myself into… seriously not happy.
After pulling into the fairgrounds and finding parking I set out to find some girl named Hayley who was the only contact I had. I looked around and there were people everywhere which meant that this was going to be like finding a needle a a haystack. So I did what any guy would do. Go find the closest hot girl and ask for directions.
After doing a quick scan I found a gorgeous blonde walking in my direction and decided that even if she had no idea who Hayley was it was probably a conversation worth having. Turns out that this gorgeous blonde was Hayley Ruscheinski. Who was married to Chris Ruscheinski. The guy who has made it his life purpose to help people with cancer.
Our introduction was quite brief due to the fact we were directly in front of the stage and one of the bands were doing their sound test. I’m fairly certain that I suffered mild brain damage from the zillion watts of sound that got blasted through my body at that moment though I’m sure nobody will notice.
As Hayley led me across the fairgrounds I couldn’t help but be impressed by the setup these guys had put together. From the gigantic stage to the custom eighty foot bar made entirely out of wooden pallets these guys knew how to make their money work for them. There were sponsor tents and food trucks, a mechanical bull, random hay bales, multiple drink ticket booths, and a massive VIP area.
The final thing I noticed were the big blue water jugs on the bar that had the words “F*ck Cancer” taped across them. I looked back at the stage I saw something that suddenly made everything click for me. Across the top of the stage in big bold letters it said “Twins Cancer Fundraising.”
I’d heard of the twins, but I’d never met them. I’d heard of Gone Country, but I’d never been to an event. I’d heard about Twins Cancer Fundraising, but I knew nothing about it. It was at that moment that I realized they were all connected and that I was about to be a part of something unbelievably amazing.
We started off by unloading the booze from a fifty-three foot semi trailer. It was packed with dozens of kegs and there were pallets stacked halfway to the roof with cans of liquid pleasure. We made a human chain and started hauling flats out of the truck two by two until every bar was stocked full. The trailer was refrigerated and doubled as a beer cooler for the kegs with draught lines running to the back of each bar.
The VIP section had it’s own bar and it’s own keg setup which meant carrying a half dozen kegs a few hundred feet. While bartending with almost all girls is usually something that I dream about, it does make tossing around full kegs a tad bit bias.
At $1000 per table, the VIP section managed to raise $50,000 before the doors were even open. The donation included a table for eight, an unobstructed view of the stage, three drink tickets per person, a private bar, and a full buffet dinner. This was the same dinner that was generously donated to the volunteers and I must say that it was quite tasty. A big thank you to Sammy J’s.
At 2pm the gates opened and people slowly started making their way through security and onto the grounds. The beer started flowing and by 6pm we couldn’t pour it fast enough. Cracking open can after can and pouring coolers four at a time into dixie cups. Thirty bartenders working together like a well oiled machine trying to raise as much money as possible.
Throughout the night I saw many familiar faces and they graciously emptied their wallets into the tip jar. This felt amazing since every penny was getting donated. None of the volunteers were there for the money, they were there for the cause.
Overflowing tip jars were emptied into the big “F*ck Cancer” jugs which were taken throughout the crowd to raise even more money. There were a multitude of ATM machines ensuring that people could be extra generous and there was even a clothing store near the front entrance selling Gone Country swag which people absolutely loved.
The one thing that I noticed was the quality of people that were present at the event. Generally when you mix alcohol with large crowds of people you end up with a handful of idiots who quickly go full retard. This was most definitely not the case at Gone Country.
People where there to support an amazing cause for some amazing people and I don’t think I can remember a single person who didn’t have a smile on their face the entire night. When you give people something to believe in and allow them to help make the world a better place it’s hard to find a reason not to be happy.
By the end of the night the Ruscheinski twins had successfully pulled off another amazing event raising $275,000 for cancer. Money that will go to help save the lives of countless individuals. An unbelievable act of selflessness from guys who in their own words are just a “Couple of idiots trying to make a difference.”
As impressive as their fundraising efforts are it’s quite transparent that what matters the most to them is raising awareness and helping as many people they can. Financial support is one avenue the twins are able to help but they also take it upon themselves to try and help educate the public around early detection and prevention.
Shortly after Shaun G had passed away another Ruscheinski friend decide that maybe it was time to see the doctor. Tommy had recently been finding mucous in his stool and Shaun’s death was what pushed him to see a doctor. That visit saved his life.
Tommy was diagnosed with colon cancer and was able to start treatment right away. It was early detection that helped him beat the disease and now he is living out his thirties as healthy as can be. Tommy’s story is what motivated the twins to come up with the “Stinky Pinky Contest.”
The Stinky Pinky Contest came about in order to raise awareness around the importance of early cancer detection. Obviously targeted at the male population, the premise behind the contest is actually quite simple. Go get a full physical and you get four pairs of tickets to Gone Country. The only catch is that you have to take a selfie with the doctor who just had his finger in your ass. Then you have to upload said photo to Facebook. The results were absolutely hilarious.
The Ruscheinski twins seem to have an almost endless supply of passion and empathy when it comes to helping others. Even as they spent fifteen hours in the pouring rain with their crew of volunteers setting up for the event they were thinking of the people that they were there to help. Getting soaked to the core Jamie simply turned to Chris and said…
“Today is going to be wet and it’s going to suck, but it’s still going to be a hundred times better than what anyone experiencing chemo and radiation treatment is going through right now.”
Although the scope of their efforts may seem minor in comparison to the worldwide struggle to find a cure, the Ruscheinski twins are setting an example as to just how far passion can take you. Gone Country is just one event and the twins managed to raise $275,000 in single day. Imagine how this could scale and what the result would be if others followed suit, not just in Vancouver, but around the world.
Obviously planetary domination when it comes to fundraising is a far stretch but the reality is that people are out partying every single day all over the world. We just need more people like Chris and Jamie Ruscheinski giving them a reason to care. Most people choose to suffer in silence, but occasionally there are those who rise above and take action while convincing others to do the same. These people are legendary.
Gone Country 2016 is slated for July 23rd next year and Chris has announced that his goal is to raise $300,000. I would love to see them absolutely demolish this number. Please share this post every way you know how and help spread the word as to what these amazing human beings have decided to do with their lives.
If you’d like more information on Twins Cancer Fundraising, Gone Country, or The Shaun G Foundation please visit the links at the bottom of the page. I’ll leave the final words to Chris…
“Our friends have pointed out that it’s important to remind everyone that Jamie and I do not and will not ever take a penny of any money raised. We have never even taken a tax receipt. We do this as a passion to help people and to remember our friends and family that we have lost to this bullshit disease.”
“We will always be transparent. We will always be honest. We will always maximize every dollar donated. We will always make this a hobby, not a job. Thanks for listening to my rant and thanks always for your support.”