Pictured, from left, are St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation Senior Development Officer Petra Taylor and director of the St. Joseph’s – Parkwood Rehabilitation Program Julie Gilvesy, BAMM Community Fund and St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation donation recipients, fund-founding family members Sharon and Rob Staffen, hospital foundation board chair John McIntosh, fundraising coordinator Krista Linklater, board vice-chair Pat Craigmile and Huron-Perth Centre CEO Terri Sparling.
By Dan Rankin
By the time all the donations and silent auction bids had been tallied at the second annual Brain and Mind Matters (BAMM) golf tournament, held last Friday at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club, the organizers had raised a total of $135,000 for the BAMM Community Fund, overseen by the Stratford-Perth Community Foundation.
Pictured with the cheque representing the $135,000 raised at the 2015 BAMM tournament are, from left, BAMM co-chair and founding family member Matt Staffen, Stratford Perth Community Foundation executive director Tracy Van Kalsbeek, BAMM co-chair Roger Quinn, Rob Staffen, Julia Staffen and Sharon Staffen.
“BAMM supports those in need within the Huron-Perth region by providing grants to organizations which support traumatic brain injuries and mental health,” said Roger Quinn, one of the event’s co-chairs and co-host at the tournament banquet Friday evening. “The funding enables these agencies to provide essential care and resources so people affected recover quicker, learn more, and have access to professional care. The funds will grow and each year we will grant a percentage of the fund value to worthwhile local organizations so they can execute our vision.”
Even though it is only in its second year, officials with the BAMM Community Fund also announced at the banquet that they would be providing their first funding grants to the Acquired Brain Injury Outpatient Program at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Hospital in London and the Huron-Perth Centre for mental health. A further donation from the St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation brought the evening’s donation to Parkwood to a total of $26,250, while the Huron-Perth Centre received $5,000.
“Many community funds similar to BAMM are forced to wait 3-5 years to build up sufficient capital before providing any grants or reinvesting funds into projects,” Quinn said. “We are proud to be able to fund not one but two projects that will have immediate and significant impact on our community.”
Other recent BAMM initiatives have included “bike rodeos” alongside local OPP that provided kids in St. Marys, Stratford and Mitchell bicycle safety lessons, free helmets and helmet sizing.
Bicycle safety is a cause near and dear to the vision of the BAMM fund.
“My dad was in a cycling accident about three years ago,” said Julia Staffen, a member of the fund’s founding family and banquet co-host. “He’s still recovering from that accident.”
Every day, 450 Canadians suffer similar traumatic brain injuries. Meanwhile, 20 percent of Canadians suffer from mental illness.
“What many people don’t know is that if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, you often suffer a mental illness, such as depression, PTSD or another mental illness,” she said. “Through the creation of BAMM, we’ve been provided with the opportunity to give back and raise awareness.”
Keynote speaker at the banquet was City of Stratford CAO and Huron-Perth Centre vice-president Ron Shaw. After Shaw’s wife Janice committed suicide in September 2012, he, his family and friends learned she had been battling mental illness in silence. “I’ve learned through my journey that it’s really important to take that shame away and shed light on this matter to make it a topic of discussion, no different than those who suffer from other diseases,” he said. “There are people who are walking a tight rope. They have to learn skills about how to do that and it’s a lot more difficult for them. Sometimes they slip and they have to hang on; you can only hold on so long. If we could just see that, we could offer them some support.”
On the tournament side of things, organizers saw a 70 percent return rate for participants compared to last year. The top individual fundraiser was Kristina Shaw ($5,450), while the team Miller Thomson/Richie was the top group ($5,775). Team Red Rock (Dale Levy, Nick Sheldon, Doug Levy and Derek Shackleton) came in first place with a score of 59.
Winners of the “speed hole” sponsored by Platinum sponsors Cowan Insurance Group were team Stonetown Physio, with a time of just 49 seconds.
Pictured, Shannon McGuire from team “Bob and the Ladies (Parkwood)” sends a putt on target at the Shepherd’s Gourmet Dairy putting contest during the BAMM golf tournament. McGuire went on to win the “Closet to the Pin” contest in the ladies class. Their team, made up of staff staff at St. Joseph’s – Parkwood Acquired Brain Injury program, raised $2,300 for the cause.