Grad project raises $129K for suicide prevention
Unstoppable is right.
Notre Dame High School’s graduating class set themselves a $45,000 fundraising goal as part of their annual graduation service project themed “Unstoppable.” At last count, the students had raised more than $129,000 — and donations are still coming in.
“I was blown away,” said Evan Macleod, student council president, on Monday.
“Once they announced it was $128,000, I was speechless. It’s amazing.”
Money will go to Suicide Information and Education Services Red Deer.
“The theme we chose this year hit home for most people involved and that is why we had such a big student involvement,” Macleod said. “Every one of us knew Kale Williams, or knew people who were affected by suicide.”
Notre Dame student Williams died in February. As part of the grad project, students arranged a charity hockey game in his name on March 11.
A week of activities took place at the school leading up to Saturday’s Race for Your Life finale that saw 38 teams take part. During the week, students took on challenges such as creating a suicide prevention video in 24 hours or making the perfect glass of lemonade.
Each team of six students, a school staff member and a parent had to raise $2,500 to participate in the final event, featuring six challenges around the community.
“The school was absolutely crazy. The energy was incredible,” said event co-ordinator Shannon Nivens, describing the wrap-up on Saturday afternoon.
“The range of emotion was incredible,” said principal Greg Hall. “There were tears. There was ecstatic joy.”
Hall gives his students full credit for their efforts.
“The kids’ courage was unbelievable through this. They just took this on and said we’re going to do something about this, (as) they have all year.”
The Grad Service Project has been going since 2008 and has always been successful, raising tens of thousands of dollars for local charities. But this year’s total far exceeds the previous best — about $51,000 raised for Ronald McDonald House in 2009.
Laura MacNeill, executive director at Suicide Information and Education Services, said they are grateful for the support and will use the funds for education, counselling and support.
“The students showed lots of courage by supporting a cause that is full of fear and stigma,” says MacNeill in a statement.
“The fact that they understand the importance of awareness in breaking the stigma of suicide is a huge step forward in our community.”