First fundraising steps taken for Brain Injury Awareness Month

Jason Kerr
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It didn’t take long for the Prince Albert Chapter of the Saskatchewan Royal Purple Association to make their presence felt as Brain Awareness Month kicks of in Saskatchewan.

Members of the Prince Albert chapter of the Royal Purple Association pose for a photo on Monday.  The lodge kicked off Brain Awareness month with a $6,000 donation to the local chapter of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association. 

Members of the local chapter raised $6,000 for the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association, all of which will stay in the Prince Albert area.

“This is the difference that one person can make with a little help from her friends,” SBIA executive director Glenda James said in an address to the media.

That one person is Elaine Perkins.  A little over a year ago the Prince Albert resident and Saskatchewan Royal Purple member started pitching the idea of raising money for the association.  Perkins noticed the need after her grandson suffered a severe brain injury while snowmobiling five years ago, and things took off from there.

“It’s almost overwhelming at times,” Perkins says.  “Even though I knew that I could count on them it still becomes overwhelming, and to think that this just started a year ago.”

In addition to the $6,000, another $1,000 was raised for province wide use.  The Royal Elks also chipped in with a $500 donation.  James says the money will allow the SBIA help people in rural areas as well.

“We’ve only been able to have a presence in the larger cities,” James says.  “This really allows us to reach out and connect with people who might need our services, who might want to connect with our programs.”

James says raising awareness to help prevent severe brain injuries is an important part of what they do, but it’s their programs that have the most impact.  James says they help alleviate the financial burden that comes from caring for someone with a severe brain injury.

“I often hear from families where a young person might have been injured say 20-30 years ago, when people first started surviving brain injuries,” James says.  “They’ve gone back into the family home and often the mom has managed to care for the individual all these years.  Now the individual might be getting middle aged or older and the mother is no longer able to do this.  The mother may pass on or land in a nursing home herself.”

The number of people living with severe brain injuries has increased in the past 30 years due to advances in medical technology, which keeps brain injuries from being fatal.  The Canadian Brain Injury Association estimates that thousands of Canadians, mostly young adults, suffer severe brain injuries every year.

“When people call us, and there is that need, we want to be able to respond,” says James.

Responding to that need costs money, and the Royal Purple did that by creating charity calendars to sell at local businesses.  Their next step is to partner with those businesses to sell “I Love My Brain” stickers, which can be purchased at various businesses around town for a $1 donation.

The idea came out of a joint Royal Purple and SBIA meeting a few months ago.  Royal Purple president Sandi Lougheed was on hand to help with the proceedings.

“I know that Royal Purple across the province is just so proud to have entered into this partnership,” Lougheed told the media.  “The majority of our members are women with big hearts and we’ve been looking for a long time for a cause within the province to really get behind and really support.”

Lougheed herself understands the problems severe brain damage causes not only for the victims, but also for their families.  Her husband suffered three brain injuries before he passed away, and she says it was easy to get the rest of the organization on board with Perkins’ idea.

“We looked at what’s happening in the world today and the big emphasis now on the impact of brain injuries, particularly on children.  Whenever you talk children and Royal Purple in the same sentence we come together well,” she says.  “It just touched our hearts.”

For the rest of the month, the Royal Purple Association says it will focus on raising money through their sticker campaign.  The SBIA says they’re going to conduct numerous events throughout the province, most of which will take place in Saskatoon.

They both say it’s been a great start to a great partnership.

“We understood that this is an association that is into programming,” Lougheed says.  “The very one thing that they needed was a volunteer arm, a fundraising arm.  That was what we could offer and it’s just been a wonderful partnership for both of us.”

The Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association began operation in 1985 to help families and victims deal with the lifestyle changes cause by severe brain injuries.  Since then it has expanded to include education and prevention, as well as support.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association, Saskatchewan Royal Purple, Royal Elks Canadian Brain Injury Association

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Prince Albert

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