Walk by the numbers
Total participants: 600+
Funds raised: $90,000
It is the third year in a row that the Sashbear Walk raised $90,000 or more. These funds are helping Sashbear expand access to NEABPD's Family Connections™ program across Canada, now running in 5 provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
Sashbear founder Lynn Courey called it “another incredible day of togetherness.” She said “I can’t thank everyone enough for helping Sashbear help families. This is so validating to us as an organization, to see the overwhelming support in our biggest awareness and fundraising event of the year. This walk is bringing much needed funds that are helping our FC leader volunteers deliver life-transforming skills to so many family members—more than 2,600 since 2015—free of charge! Can you believe that? FC volunteers dedicate collectively thousands of hours per year to deliver a program free of charge whose impact on families and their loved ones goes beyond our wildest expectations, and we need to expand it further, so no family is left behind.“
The walk was organized by a team of more than 90 volunteers led by Bev Petrovic. When asked about the work accomplished by her team, Bev said: "I would like to thank each and everyone of you for making the walk a success. The walk couldn't have happened without you and your expertise... Cannot wait to be a part of the team again!!".
The event kicked off promptly at 10 am with a few members from Old Man Flanagan's Ghost band singing an a capella song, followed by founder Lynn Courey and her daughter Kayla Menu Courey and, for the third year in a row, Arif Virani, MP for Parkdale High Park. The ceremony was smoothly animated by Actor John Ralston who was Master of Ceremonies, a long time supporter of the foundation, with his wife Karen Waddell who guided the crowd through a mindfulness exercise in preparation of the walk across the Humber Bay Arch bridge. The opening ceremonies concluded with R. Shelley singing a song she wrote specifically for the walk to the crowd's delight. She was later joined by Don Campbell on stage to play some tunes during the walk.
Cutting the ribbon this year at the start of the walk was Lynn Courey with special guest Pat Healy, recipient of Sasha Menu Courey's heart. This was Pat's third walk, coming all the way from Boston with his wife Karen in support of the Menu Courey family and their foundation.
The Finish Line
Once the official ribbon-cutting was complete, and the walk was underway, volunteers led by Olympians Heather Maclean and Brittany Maclean, jumped into action transforming the walk site into a ceremonial finish line complete with red carpet so the Olympians could bestow medals on each walker as they completed the five kilometres. Participants also had a chance to take pictures with the Olympians at the photo booth station.
All funds raised by the Sashbear Walk go towards supporting Sashbear programs. The signature program is Family Connections™, a Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) skills-based Peer-to-Peer program which provides skills to families. There is no need for a referral or diagnosis and the program is free. Sashbear understands that families are on the front line in the battle to fight mental illness and they need skills and understanding.
The Sashbear Foundation is leading the drive to expand access to the Family Connections™ program across Canada. Programs are now running in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Sashbear Walk in Devon, Alberta
Stuart and I are pleased to share about the success of the Sashbear Walk (Tom's Walk) in Devon on May 26. It was a wonderful day and we are grateful to the businesses who w
ent the extra mile in helping the day be such a success and to all who came out for the walk. An extra thank you to CE Media Signs and Designs for the donation of the banner used for the walk and a special thank you is extended to all the volunteers who helped so much and ATA local 8 for their donation of food for the tasty BBQ.
We were especially thankful that Mark Snaterse and Scott Aylwin, directors of Mental Health and Addictions for Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, shared how Tom’s story is changing the mental health system for others. They reflected on how they heard from us that treatment could be better for those suffering with mental illness and that steps are being made in the Edmonton area to address these needs. We also we thankful that Cindy Gerdes shared how impactful Family Connections truly is and how it is growing in Alberta. We now have several classes offered from Medicine Hat in southern Alberta to Edmonton in north central Alberta. The goal is to spread the message to more Alberta centers in the future.
Family Connections Facilitators™ who were able to attend the walk
On the day of the Sashbear Walk, we raised $4713.36. Prior to the walk, $2475 was raised online. Kelly’s Alberta Teachers’ Association local applied for and received a Mental Health grant of $2000 which went towards food and supplies for the walk. The remaining amount of the grant was $1459.64, which was added to the online donations. This brought the total raised to $7188.36. This fills our hearts with so much joy! We are forever grateful for the skills and hope gained through our Family Connections training through Sashbear. Their goal is to end the stigma of mental health and prevent suicide. That is our goal too.
Stuart and Kelly Maxwell
Sashbear Walk in the News
CTV News Toronto at 6 reported on the 2019 Sashbear Walk:
This year, The Sashbear Foundation made the news in Mandarin with Meilin Ma interviewing with OMNI TV - a two part interview shown below: