Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an open letter published by the Bluewater Health Foundation.
We did it! The Do It For Sarnia Campaign has reached its goal of $150,000 for Mental Health and Addiction Services at Bluewater Health.
Before thanking those who contributed to this success, I want to reflect on this journey and how it began.
Following my accident, The Sarnia Observer wrote an article in 2006 about the first ‘Do It For Dan’ event. One of my closest friends was quoted as saying, “We know if it was any one of us he’d do the same thing.”
When I read that, I honestly did not know what I’d done to deserve friends like that.
Article after article showed community support for me and my family, and donations to the Do It For Dan Campaign eventually totalled over $150,000.
I was conflicted by so many emotions. Hope, gratefulness, joy, but I also at times felt unworthy of the generosity, and with that came shame and guilt.
Why? I discovered there were others suffering with similar issues in my community and they didn’t get a fraction of support I received. I was also angry I was in a wheelchair for the foreseeable future.
In 2009 a family friend said: “Daniel, I see everyone is doing it for Dan, but I’m wondering when Dan is going to start doing it for Dan?”
That question set in motion a series of events that changed my life. I began speaking to crowds of students. Youth groups became classrooms, then classrooms became auditoriums and full gymnasiums of students.
“Do It For Sarnia” was born in 2016. My goal was to host a couple of events to raise money for the Bluewater Health Foundation, with all proceeds going to Mental Health and Addiction Services. I was convinced Sarnia would do what Sarnia does best, which is answer a call for help.
After four Block Parties and one “10 Years Later” show at the Imperial Theatre, the goal has been met, and it feels like a dream come true.
I have so many people to thank: my friends for their love and support; my brother Zach for his perseverance; the Do It For Dan Committee members who mentored me to be a better person; all of the sponsors, LiUNA provincial and Local 1089.
I want to thank my alma mater St. Christopher’s and Lambton College for giving me the tools to achieve, and all the Block Party musicians, organizers and volunteers.
I thank my family for shaping me, and my mother for raising champions. And finally, Kathy Alexander and the ladies of Bluewater Health Foundation, the hardest working people I’ve ever met.
And finally, to you Sarnia. This campaign opened my eyes to a revelation: If you live here, if you call Sarnia home, prove it.
How many hellos did you give today? How many doors did you hold open? How many hugs did you give, how many smiles? How many people did you contact to see how they’re doing? How many did you forgive? How many times did you say I love you? How many times did you see yourself in the mirror and say, I am beautiful?
I love each and every one of you. And I challenge you to prove you live here, and prove it with love.
Dan Edwards is a motivational speaker in Sarnia.
To read the full letter, visit www.bwhf.ca