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 program is in high demand as many health providers such as CAMH, SickKids, and the Canadian Mental Health Association are referring families to Sashbear.
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 Pictures
Pictures from this year’s Sashbear walk from our volunteer photographers. Just click on the images below to see full albums.