A dedicated team of moustached firefighters from North Saanich raised more money for men’s health this fall than any other fire department in the country.
The North Saanich Fire Department raised a whopping $38,130 for the Great Canadian Fire Challenge, a Movember fundraiser helping to raise money and awareness for men’s mental health, prostate and testicular cancer.
The Peninsula-based team, from a community with just 11,200 residents, came out on top of major fire department teams including Toronto, which raised $32,161.33, Burlington, which raised $16, 952 and Edmonton, which raised $15, 572.
On Nov. 21, team captain Eric Keating told Black Press Media the team was shooting to raise at least $20,000. Just over three weeks later, the North Saanich Fire Department had nearly doubled its goal.
Keating says he wasn’t expecting the team to raise so much.
“We’re super fired up and pretty blown away by the community support that we got,” he says. “I think because it’s a smaller community, people are more in tune and more connected. There’s less hustle and bustle, they take the time to reach out.”
Keating says donations came in from local businesses, organizations and individuals. The highest fundraiser, Josef Olsen, raised more than $7,000 all on his own.
“I think it’s also the fact that we’re a volunteer department,” Keating says. “The community appreciates what we do, that we get up in the middle of the night to help.”
Keating says the causes – cancer and mental health – are also close to the hearts of the first responders.
“[Mental health] affects everybody and it’s something we really felt was important,” he says, adding that he hopes to include more teams in an even larger fundraising effort in 2020. “We’re excited and we’re gonna step it up next year.”
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