A GLEEful event

February 8, 2011 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

After 15 years of involvement, I have finally been able to join the organizing committee of a fundraiser that is very dear to my heart (thank you maternity leave!). MindCare NB‘s Skate to Care is in it’s 24th year THIS SATURDAY, February 12th, 2011.

Skate to Care is a major fundraiser for mental health programs in Saint John and across New Brunswick. Teams sign up to raise money and the fundraising culminates in a celebratory skate day at Harbour Station.  I have fond (and COLD) memories of the event when it was held at Lily Lake as part of my family & neighbors team The G.E.M.S. (Gary Emrich Memorial Skaters)!  Having watched family, friends and some of my students live with the repercussions of mental illness, I am a strong advocate for speaking up about this and trying to remove the stigma that still surrounds this disease.

This year the theme of the event (themes were added a while back to keep things interesting & to allow for my fave perk…  dressing up) is GLEE!  As a self proclaimed GLEEK, I was responsible for creating GLEE themed crafts for the children in attendance, a GLEE themed relay race on the ice and the booking of entertainment – the Simonds High School Cheerleaders, who fit in perfectly for the GLEE/High School theme.  This theme is great for bringing on board the younger demographic for whom mental illness is a big issue.

With more information on this fantastic event, exclusive to Saint John, an article was published in today’s Telegraph Journal that featured my beautiful 5 1/2 month old son and I:

Teacher again helping fundraiser

SAINT JOHN – New mom Katie Emrich hasn’t allowed the fact she’s on maternity leave to keep her from a 15th consecutive year of involvement in the Investors Group Skate to Care, a major fundraiser for MindCare New Brunswick.

Click to Enlarge
In fact, the 27-year-old has taken things to a whole new level.

As a member of the organizing committee for this year’s Glee-themed event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Harbour Station, the Kennebecasis Valley High School teacher got to use her background in musical theatre in organizing a relay race featuring stereotypical Glee characters.

This year’s event will feature 35 teams and hundreds of skaters.

Emrich is also doing her part to help the fundraiser achieve its goal of $150,000 – $8,000 more than last year – by selling jewelry and bake goods for the cause.

“I would do anything I can to help out,” Emrich said Monday, as she bounced her five-month old son, Jack, on her knee during a joint interview with MindCare NB executive director Donna Gates.

“(It was) because I’m on maternity leave that I was able to join the organizing committee, which is very rewarding,” she said. “I wanted to join the organizing committee before, but as a teacher, I couldn’t make the noon-hour meetings.”

Gates said Emrich and son Jack, who accompanies her, have both been welcome additions.

Emrich was just 12 when she first got involved with Skate to Care.

Her parents, she said, put together a team called the GEMS – the Gary Emrich Memorial Skaters – to honour the memory of a favourite uncle of hers who committed suicide.

While the GEMS no longer compete as a team, her father still donates money in his memory and, most recently, she has continued to take part as captain of a team of students who approached her at KVHS after they learned of her involvement.

For Emrich, joining the organizing committee was a logical next step.

“I have been involved for so long and I appreciate what is being done, and where the money goes,” she said. “I have always done it, and my family has always done it, in my uncle’s memory. This is just another level of being able to give back.

“It’s all about giving back,” she said. “It is just adding to what I’ve done before and being able to continue it.”

Emrich thinks people need to talk more about mental health issues.

“It is just so important,” she said. “It is such a huge issue for people.”

The necklace and earrings she designed continue to honour the memory of her Uncle Gary (also Jack’s middle name) since, like the family team, it’s called GEMS – the Gary Emrich Memorial Swag.

“It really is the community coming together that make this event so incredible,” Gates said of the Investors Group Skate to Care. “When you think about 24 years in the community, that’s a long time for a fundraising event. That’s incredible longevity.

“It’s people like Katie, and the other fundraisers who have taken their own time to come up with fun and creative ideas to raise funds, that helps us get to that goal of $150,000.”

With community, corporate and individual support, more than $2 million was raised in the first 23 years of the event.

Through research, education and patient community care, MindCare promotes mental wellness and helps sponsor expert services for those living with mental illness.

Funds from this year’s event will be distributed to numerous programs across New Brunswick.

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Entry filed under: Causes, Fundraiser, News Article. Tags: , , , , , .

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