Sashbear Walk attracts hundreds of walkers, raising $90,000 for mental health!

On Sunday May 26th, 2019 Toronto’s Sunnyside Boardwalk became a sea of orange, with the sun shining once again for the 7th consecutive year in a row!  Hundreds of family members, friends, people with lived experience, athletes, service providers, sponsors, and educators gathered for the 5K Walk in support of The Sashbear Foundation.

2018 Sashbear's Annual General Meeting Notes

Walk by the numbers

  • Total participants: 600+
  • Teams: 24
  • Funds raised: $90,000

This was the seventh annual Sashbear Walk and the third in a row to raise $90,000 or more. These funds are helping Sashbear expand access to NEABPD’s Family Connections™ program across Canada, now running in 5 provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.

Sashbear founder Lynn Courey called it “another incredible day of togetherness.” She said “I can’t thank everyone enough for helping Sashbear help families. This is so validating to us as an organization, to see the overwhelming support in our biggest awareness and fundraising event of the year. This walk is bringing much-needed funds that are helping our FC leader volunteers deliver free or charge, life-transforming skills to so many family members, more than 2,600 since 2015! – can you believe that? FC volunteers dedicate collectively thousands of hours per year to deliver a program free of charge whose impact on families and their loved ones goes beyond our wildest expectations, and we need to expand it further, so no family is left behind.“

The walk was organized by a team of more than 90 volunteers led by Bev Petrovic. When asked about the work accomplished by her team Bev said: “I would like to thank each and every one of you for making the walk a success. The walk couldn’t have happened without you and your expertise… Cannot wait to be a part of the team again!!”.

Kickoff ceremonies

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.

Ribbon-cutting Ceremony

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.


Sashbear Walk Video for 2019!

Wajih Adbalnour’s video of the 2019 Sashbear walk featuring song from R. Shelley

In the News

See below a CTV News Toronto at 6 report on the 2019 Sashbear Walk:

This year, The Sashbear Foundation made the news in Mandarin with Meilin Ma interviewing with OMNI TV – a two-part interview shown below:

One day, One community, One Team, One Dream And YOU helped us make it happen!

Our Walk Sponsors

Thank you to our sponsors of this year’s Sashbear Walk and to the Max and Coralie Koeune Foundation for their generous donation:

Thank you for making this walk a huge success!

…and book your calendars for next year’s walk on Sunday May 24, 2020!

The Sashbear Team

Messages of awareness

The following messages of awareness were shown during the walk by our tireless volunteer “sandwich people” which carried them, one on their back and one on their front: