Courtnalls ace fundraiser

Brothers achieve victory for mental health

The Courtnall brothers – Russ

The Courtnall brothers – Russ

Russ and Geoff Courtnall may be retired from the NHL, but they – together with their brother Bruce – have scored big once again for mental health.

“Excellent,” Geoff Courtnall said of the more than $720,000 the third Courtnall Celebrity Classic raised. That’s not counting funds raised at the gala dinner, golf tournament and through online donations, which will be tabulated over the next two weeks.

“I think it was overwhelming this weekend with the response.”

The money will outfit five mental health units at the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s new Patient Care Centre with special furnishings, such as tables and chairs that don’t have sharp edges, high-tech patient beds, lifts and slings, a closed-circuit TV system and emergency call buttons, among other items.

Equally as important, the event brought mental illness out from the shadows.

“I really believe that it’s becoming more and more out in the open,” said Bruce Courtnall. “It helps people heal. Maybe it helps people admit they have got to deal with some things.”

Mental health patients, their families, even their doctors have long suffered the shame associated with mental illness, said psychiatrist Dr. Rivian Weinerman, the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s regional head of collaborative care in psychiatry. “The Courtnalls’ job, and what they’re doing so beautifully, is really fighting stigma,” said Weinerman.

Their support for the mental health department at the Patient Care Centre – home to units for mood disorders, psychoses, general psychiatric care, older adult psychiatry, and eventually a seclusion unit – shows patients that people care.

“Having them as part of the Patient Care Centre just like everybody else addresses a lot of levels of stigma,” Weinerman said.

The Courtnalls raised about $2 million through their first two Courtnall Celebrity Classics in 2003 and 2004, and opened the Archie Courtnall Centre for emergency psychiatric care, named for their father who committed suicide in 1978.

A fourth Courtnall Celebrity Classic isn’t planned for next year, but the Courtnalls say they will continue to champion mental health causes.

Funds raised

CFAX 1070 radiothon: $82,642

Silent and live auction: $387,875

Thrifty Foods founder, Alex Campbell Sr.: $250,000

Gala dinner, golf tourney and online donations: to be tabulated

 

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