Sixteen years ago, Lisa Belcourt stumbled across a Community Care Durham (CCD) flyer inviting people to participate in the inaugural COPE Walk for Mental Health Awareness. Little did anyone know then, Lisa’s chance discovery would result in thousands of sponsorships and more than $30,000 raised.
“I couldn’t believe they wanted volunteers to fundraise. I thought, I can do that. I love fundraising; it’s fun,” Lisa said.
The Oshawa resident’s fundraising talents have made her CCD’s top fundraiser for the past 15 years. Today, the event has morphed into KMs for CCD, 8 Days of Wellness, which encourages participants to walk, roll or cycle to raise funds for CCD. Money raised will help the organization to continue providing services for individuals who have needs related to aging, physical and/or mental health and those who care for them.
The online fundraiser begins on Sept. 24 and runs until Oct. 1. Registrants will have the option of participating virtually, any time, any place throughout the eight days, or in-person at Purple Woods Conservation Area on Oct. 1.
The name and format of the event may have changed over the years but not Lisa’s fundraising goals. Last year, she was the top individual fundraiser, bringing in $2,491.50. So far this year, she’s on track to beat that goal. She started early and plans to continue right up until the start of the event on Sept. 24.
“I was getting bored, so I thought, OK, let’s go and do some fundraising,” she said.
Lisa comes by her fundraising talents naturally. Her father, Marc, worked in sales his whole life, and her brother Stephen is also in sales. It helps, too, that Lisa is a people person and is not shy about striking up a conversation with someone she’s just met.
“I love getting to meet all kinds of different people,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people (over the years).”
She met a local Oshawa city councillor out walking his dog a few years ago. Lisa said she knows councillors help people in the community, so she approached him for a donation, and he said yes. He’s now sponsored her for several years.
“Ten dollars here, $20 there, it all adds up,” Lisa said.
She said fundraising for CCD is important because it gives her satisfaction in knowing she’s helping people.
“I love helping other people. I put myself on the back burner, and I help other people. I love it,” she said.
Being the top fundraiser for 15 years running, we asked Lisa, what’s her secret? She smiled and said that was a good question.
“I call people I know, and I’m not shy,” she said.
She’s also got a bit of a competitive spirit in her and enjoys the challenge of beating her fundraising totals from the year before.
Lisa raised $1,200 in her first year, and from that point on, every year, she has raised more money than the year before. Last year, with the support of her mother, Pat, who was cheering her on, she was determined to break $2,000 — and she did.
“She’s always saying, ‘You can do it, you can do it’. I finally said to myself, ‘OK, I’m going to get to $2,000’, and I did.”
Lisa said she is looking forward to participating in the 3-kiloemtre portion of KMs for CCD and getting to meet people at the finale event at Purple Woods.
She said she teases her mom by saying she’s going to quit and not participate in the fundraiser anymore.
“Sometimes I tell her I want to quit, but I keep doing it,” she said with a smile.
We’re happy Lisa’s just joking. Being the top fundraiser 15 years running, she’d be missed.
Participants can register at communitycaredurham.on.ca/kmsforccd, record their progress and follow the progress of their peers or teams. There will be prizes for the top fundraisers and great fundraising incentives. All participants will receive a free T-shirt.