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Northern Fundraisers donate $110,000 to local charity

Local NewsNorthern Fundraisers donate $110,000 to local charity

At thirteen years old, Jack Collver stood tall alongside honorary Rotarian Bob Caissie, representing children and youth who access resources, services and support for special needs at Lansdowne Children’s Centre. Attending a meeting of the Rotary Club of Brantford, the duo presented club president Mike Mears with the results of the Great Northern Fundraiser, a cheque for $220,000.

Said Bob Caissie, “That’s a lot of money to help move kids programs forward.”

Jack started attending Lansdowne Children’s Centre at the age of four. Challenged by global developmental delay, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and Autism, he has grown to be an enthusiastic young man, a big fan of fishing with his Grandma in Bobcaygeon, and may one day become a motivational speaker. As he tells it, “Before I came to Lansdowne, I couldn’t walk. Now, I can run.”

Overcoming a condition of tight leg muscles in his early years, today Jack plays soccer and competes in several track and field events in the Special Olympics. The Lansdowne recreation programs that helped to contribute to his self confidence and skill development were made possible by generous community donations like this one.

It was 25 years earlier that Bob Caissie first organized a fundraiser to support Lansdowne Children’s Centre, and took a group of Rotarian snowmobilers on a great northern adventure. Over 20 years, the Great Northern Ride raised nearly $3 million dollars in contributions to Lansdowne Children’s Centre Foundation.

“I won’t blame just COVID for ending the ride,” said Caissie. “I think our group was getting a little old to run in the deep cold for 300 kilometers.”

A year earlier on a fishing trip with friends Rob Timmerman and Steve Haggerty, a conversation started about what they could do next, to do something else to raise money for the kids. That was the genesis of the Great Northern Fundraisers, who together contributed and solicited donations to support children’s programs, camps and sports in Brantford and Brant County.

Lansdowne Children’s Centre Executive Director Rita-Marie Hadley, also a Rotarian, beamed with gratitude for the community support. “To originate a new fundraiser takes so much passion and drive. Bob Caissie and friends have done an incredible job engaging business owners, and educating the business community about the needs of children and youth in our community and our region. We are blessed to be among the beneficiaries of this gift,” said Hadley.

This year’s Great Northern experience was a group fishing trip that attracted 30 participants, each contributing a minimum $1,500 donation on top of trip expenses. Additional gifts were raised by sponsorship and pledges. Through Rotary Club of Brantford, $110,000 of proceeds raised by the Great Northern Fundraisers were donated to Lansdowne Children’s Centre, supporting recreation programs and other greatest needs of children and youth with special needs.

Jennifer White, Executive Director of Lansdowne Children’s Centre Foundation, joined Rita-Marie Hadley in accepting the donation, commenting it was the largest gift she had been part of since joining Lansdowne in 2023. “We are so grateful to everyone who has supported Bob Caissie and the Great Northern Fundraisers, dating back 25 years to the Northern Ride, especially all the local businesses and leaders who were part of the fundraiser this year.”

Asked about modern challenges the Lansdowne Foundation is facing, White replied, “Capacity is the greatest need right now. We have a ballooning population in our region. Programs are needing to grow to keep up with demand, and that’s only able to happen with the help of generous donors and the passionate energy and actions of fundraisers and volunteers like this amazing group.”

Through the Rotary Club of Brantford, the Great Northern Fundraisers also contributed $84,000 to the Arnold Anderson Sport Fund, a program that helps families in need to help register and outfit their children in recreational sport programs in Brantford and Brant.

“The best way to raise money is to do stuff you like to do,” shared Bob Caissie. “Getting people involved, and recognizing that young people like Jack, and Jack’s family, need some support – our support. And there’s many, many families like them.”

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