Nataly Alves from Silstar Foundation

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Nataly Alves is from the Silstar Foundation and took some time out to talk to us about Silstar, a non-profit foundation working towards raising funds for lung cancer research, and its mission.

MenuSano is a proud sponsor of the Silstar Foundation and the MenuSano team will be volunteers at the “5K Walk in the Woods” that will be taking place on Sunday, September 15th, in Kleinburg, Ontario.

For more information about Silstar, visit

Light Transcript of Interview

S: Why don’t you tell us a bit about the Silstar foundation and it’s mission.

N: Silstar Foundation was created by family and friends after my aunt passed away. My cousin Rick called a group of people up (that was her son, Rick) and said: “I really feel there is this empty void”. We all felt that too. We lost our aunt very early on. It was a real tragedy in the family and we felt we needed to do something. So we started Silstar in a small venue at our family’s restaurant. We had about 130 people. The next year we had 150 180 people. We wanted to keep it something small and intimate that kept our aunt’s values and things that she cherished which was hosting people and having people around over good food and conversation. And we started raising funds that way and it has progressed into our beautiful event now with up to 500 people.

We are trying to raise funds for lung cancer research. Specifically for Dr. Natasha Leighl which was my aunt’s oncologist for her cancer research fund.

S: Great. I just want to get more into details about the foundation and the good work you are doing. So the first question I have for you is what type of research is being done with the funds raised?

N: So Dr. Natasha Leighl’s team is working really hard on trying to find ways to better execute biopsies so it is less invasive for patients. Right now lunch cancer biopsies are very invasive to patients. They have a downtime of 2-3 days and it is quite an ordeal emotionally and physically. They are working hard to try to find a biopsy that can be done through bloodwork. That in a way can give us early detection and allow for quicker targeted treatment for lung cancer.

S: That’s amazing. Has there been any progress with that?

N: Yes. When my aunt first got diagnosed there were little options. She was able to do chemotherapy. As we know chemotherapy just wipes you right out. Now we are really focussing on giving patients options. The earlier that you detect it, the more options you have available. This is what we are really striving towards.

S: How is the research making the quality of life better for the patients?

N: If they are not having chemo and they are having targeted treatments, they are able not to have those negative effects and really focus more on healing and fighting the disease.

S: Why a 5 K walk in the woods? Where did that idea come from?

N: When we started the fundraising, we ended up capping it out at 200 because of space limitations at our family’s restaurant. We wanted to move to something bigger and a grander scale fundraising activity. So we came up with the idea of the walk in the woods in Kleinburg at my aunt’s farm because she loved it. She loved nothing more than walking around the place and being around the horses and nature. She loved gardening, she loved entertaining up there. When we go up there, we really feel her around us. We feel her presence and putting on this production and looking around, you are awestruck by what we can accomplish in keeping her spirit of family, friends, and entertaining. It’s a great event to see.

S: Wow, that’s amazing. What is the donation amount for the day?

N: Tickets are $100 for adults. Children are $25 for ages 6-17 and under 6 is free. You get a tax receipt and if you register before August 31, you get a door prize when you check in that day.

S: Oh that’s amazing! Where is Kleinburg, Ontario for those who don’t know?

N: Kleinburg is just north of the city. We are at Highway 27, just north of Major Mackenzie. You get to us by any of the highways (427 or 400). It is really easy to get to. You are only 30-40mins outside of the city. It is beautiful up there. It is a beautiful topography up there. It’s hilly and there are trees. When you go down to the farm property it’s just magical. You go down this long driveway and you get out of the car and say, “where am I?” and you are only half an hour out of the city. It’s a great location.

S: I got to volunteer last year at the Silstar foundation. I really enjoyed the day. I loved where it was located. For those of us who are listening, can you tell us more about the day, the activities, and what they can expect?

N: The day will start off with the 5 km walk we have. It is straight through the forest and along the banks of the Humber River. It is a really pretty walk. We have a family-friendly 3 km walk which is less aggressive. Then we have the 5 k full out hike through the woods. When you are done the walk you can join us at what we call the basecamp. From there we have a huge selection of food vendors that are so graciously donating their time and goods to us. We have Spiga has a wonderful bbq, and we have gelato, last year we had Porchetta. We have half a dozen food carts then we have a big carnival for kids with bouncy castles and obstacle courses. We have prizes for the kids. We have a silent auction area. We have and a really big center stage with live music, entertainment, and dancing. It is interactive. The whole day whizzes by. It is really something to see. If you are looking for something to do with your family and have a great day out with great food and helping a great cause, it can’t be beat.

S: I totally agree. I just wanted to add that there are horses on the property and they are absolutely beautiful. The food, is it all free?

N: Yes, it is all included. You’re just paying admission at the door and everything else is included. We also have a silent auction for purchase and we have a 50-50 draw that you can test your luck. Yes, food, entertainment, and the carnival are all included in admission.

S: And just to add to that, the funds that are raised that day all go to Dr. Natasha Leighl’s cancer research fund. And how much did we raise last year?

N: Last year’s event raised $150 thousand dollars. It was our best year to date. Hopefully, we will beat that. Every year we try to pass our latest milestone. We have a goal of $175 thousand dollars. We would love to reach that amount and see as many people out there as possible.

S: That’s awesome. So for everyone listening, if you are interested in joining the 5 k walk in the woods, we welcome you to register online. If you don’t want to participate in the walk and you would like to donate, you can do both on the website, The event is the 2019 Walk in the Woods. It will take place on Sunday, September 15 starting at 11 am – 4 pm in Kleinburg, Ontario. For more information and registration visit Thanks for joining us today Natalie

N: Thanks for having me, it was great.

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