Another letter from Dan Edwards

The following letter is on behalf of Dan Edwards

Dear Sarnia,

We did it! The Do It For Sarnia Campaign has reached its goal of $150,000 for Mental Health and Addiction Services at Bluewater Health.

Before I mention how thankful I am for everything that everyone has contributed to this success, I want to reflect on this journey and how this campaign began.

In August of 2006, Lindsey Coad of The Sarnia Observer wrote an article about the first ‘Do It For Dan’ event. One of my closest friends was quoted in the article saying, “We know if it was anyone of us he’d do the same thing.” When I read that for the first time I honestly did not know what I had done to deserve friends like that.

As the months went on, in late 2006 and then into 2007, article after article showed community support for me and my family as the donations totaled over $150,000 from the Do It For Dan Campaign. I began to feel conflicted by so many emotions. Hope, gratefulness, joy came upon me, but I also at times I felt unworthy of this level of generosity, and with that came shame and guilt.

Why you may ask? For starters, at the time, I don’t know if I could do for everyone what my friends, family and Sarnia did for me. I later would discover that there were others suffering with similar issues as I was in my community and didn’t get the fraction of support that I was receiving. Side note: I was also angry that I was now in a wheelchair for the foreseeable future.

In 2009 I was asked this question from a family friend: “Daniel, I see everyone is doing it for Dan, but I’m wondering when Dan is going to start it doing for Dan?”

That question prompted a decision that later set in motion a series of events that changed my life for the better. I began speaking to crowds of students. Youth groups became classrooms, then classrooms became auditoriums and full gymnasiums of students.

2011 through 2012 felt like a difficult time in Sarnia in regards to mental health among the youth in our community. I decided then I was going to make good on a sentiment that had been publicly made about me several years ago.

Fast forward to 2016, and Do It For Sarnia was born. My goal was simply to announce the campaign and host a couple of events that year to raise money for Bluewater Health Foundation. All the proceeds would go to the Mental Health and Addiction Services at Bluewater Health. I was convinced that Sarnia would do what Sarnia does best, which was to answer a call for help. I thought the goal was going to be met in the first year, I was wrong.

This campaign was announced November 2015 and here we are July 2019. After four Block Parties and one ‘10 Years Later’ show at the Imperial Theatre, I can officially say that the goal has been met and it feels like a dream come true.

I want to thank my friends for their initial love and support; from day one they cried and laughed with me until I was able to find new dreams before and after my accident. You believed in me and that was more than enough.

I want to thank my brother, Zach, because without your perseverance I would not have been able to achieve this.

I want to thank the Do It For Dan Committee members for their support and giving birth to this pay it forward opportunity. Denise, Krystal and Dave you are my forever mentors to be a better person.

I want to thank all of the sponsors that took part in all four Block Parties, because I could not have achieved this level of success without your generosity. I personally want to thank LiUNA provincial and Local 1089, especially Mike Maitland and Jason McMichael for believing in me. They believed so much that they bought me a new wheelchair so that I was able to continue my work in this community.

I want to thank my girlfriend, Brittany, and her family, for their love and support throughout this journey.

I want to thank my alma mater St. Christopher’s and Lambton College for giving me the environment and the tools to achieve this feat. I created relationships that have become the wind beneath my sails. To the Lambton College Digital Photography program, I am forever indebted to you all.

I want to thank The Trews, Red Wanting Blue, Rob Jenkins & The Room, Eric Etheridge Band, The Rapids, Chris Molyneaux, Rebound Rocks, and DJ Phatfingers for playing on our stage for this cause.

I want to thank this year’s Block Party Committee: Dan Tidball, Nick Stokley, Michele Stokley, Scott McLean, Geoff Dale, Jason McMichael, and Rob Jenkins. Thank you for helping the Block Party get to the level that it is at today.

I want to thank the volunteers that came out to every event to get things going and running smoothly. Your efforts are the backbone of this achievement!

I want to thank my family for shaping me. I am the way I am because of each of you.

I want to thank my mother for raising champions. You taught us that only through faith can we achieve what we desire. I came into this world winning because of everything you are.

Lastly, Bailey, Tabitha, Danielle, Johanne and Adelle are also known as the best group of women ever assembled. The ladies of Bluewater Health Foundation are the hardest working people I’ve ever met and you have no idea how lost I would’ve been if it wasn’t for you and your tutelage.

And as for your leader, Kathy Alexander, you have become my standard of excellence my friend! Meeting you was nothing short of a gift.

And finally, to you Sarnia, I leave you with this, this campaign opened my eyes to this revelation:

If you live here, if you’re from here, if you call Sarnia home, prove it.

How many hi, hellos did you give today? How many doors did you hold open today? How many hugs did you give today? How many smiles did you share? How many people did you call or text to check in and see how they’re doing? How many people did you forgive today? How many times did you say I love you? How many times did you see yourself in the mirror and say, I am beautiful?

I love each and every one of you and I challenge you to prove that you live here, and to prove it with love.

Dan Edwards