Reflecting back upon the Grey Cup weekend in Regina, I have feelings of pride, satisfaction, exhilaration and complete exhaustion. Having been a Rider fan my whole life, I knew this was going to be a momentous occasion to have Regina host this incredible Grey Cup match up.
The moment I stepped off the plane in Regina – decked out in my green and white – I could definitely feel the electricity in the air and the anticipation of the big game to see the Riders and the Tiger Cats battle it out at Mosaic Stadium. The week was jam-packed with the Player Awards, Gala, the Grey Cup Parade, CFL Tweet Up, Tailgate party, entertainment such as Hedley, Barenaked Ladies, Big and Rich, and the Sheep Dogs to name a few. All the while, the Fan Party Zone was jam-packed, and Riderville was definitely the place to be.Being a proud TELUS team member, I was especially pleased to see our branding all over the city. Whether it was seeing the frenzy of fans racing to the TELUS Store to cash in on one of the commemorative TELUS toques, or lining up to buy a new smartphone to take advantage of the $101 discount offer, to crazy football fans from all over the country engaging in a fun, interactive ‘sphero’ table-top game where they could compete to win cool swag or win tickets the Grey Cup. Each time a participant made a touchdown in this game, TELUS donated $1 to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. Saturday night was the culmination of the sphero game where eight finalists went head to head with CFL Alumni Don Narcisse and Bob Poley. After a gruelling round robin, Jolene Sanchuck was crowned as the TELUS Touchdown Challenge champion where she won tickets to the Sunday’s Grey Cup Game, she carried the coveted Cup in the Fan March, and represented CFL fans everywhere as she helped me to co-present a big cheque on field to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. And when I reference a big cheque…not only was it a massive spectacle (we were hoping there wouldn’t be high winds!), but the contribution was for $415,000 which represented not only the fan participation in the TELUS Touchdown Challenge, but also the total for the TELUS Phones for Good campaign where TELUS donated $25 for every new smartphone activation over the past three years.
As for the Grey Cup game itself, what can I say? It was somewhat surreal. It was truly a sea of green inside the Stadium, and as the Snowbirds did their fly-over at the end of the national anthem, your hair stood up on the back of your neck as fans cheered until they were hoarse to bring home the Cup. It was “Game On” – and despite the Ti-Cats posting the first score on the board, the Riders quickly took control of the game and entertained fans for the entire four quarters of play. As the clock ticked down in the dying seconds of the game, you could see tears of joy welling up in the faces of Rider Nation as the realization of what had just transpired. The sweetest victory — and in front of a home town crowd. There is no better ending to this story.
With the official Grey Cup parade now in the books, and the Green Mile returned to its status quo, it’s a great feeling to know that not only have we helped to make a difference in the lives of children who are battling cancer, but the battle on the field will begin again in seven short months and we’ll get to do this all over again.
Michael Sangster is Vice-President, Government Relations at TELUS.