Mental health crusade nets $1 million

Courtnall Celebrity Classic cash donated to Royal Jubilee Hospital

Even after raising almost $1 million, the Courtnall brothers measure their success by the stories people tell them.

Still, after donating $900,000 to the Victoria Hospital Foundation this week, it appears their fundraising efforts are as successful as their fight to reduce the stigma associated  with mental illness.

“It’s so much more than the money, but the money’s a necessity to create the end result,” said Oak Bay resident Bruce Courtnall, who worked side-by-side with brothers  and former NHL players Russ and Geoff to make their third Courtnall Celebrity Classic, held in July, a triumph.

The funds will pay for high-tech patient beds, furniture without sharp edges, lifts and slings, a closed-circuit TV system and emergency call buttons, for example, for five mental health units at the Royal Jubilee Hospital’s state-of-the-art Patient Care Centre, which opened earlier this year.

“The best part is the individuals who continue to come up to us and talk about their experiences (with mental illness),” Bruce said. “More and more people are finding the strength to talk about their own situation.”

The golf tournament, red carpet gala dinner, radiothon, fundraiser proved to be a huge investment of time, but the brothers say their journey has been rewarding in many ways.

“All that hard work, it makes you feel good when you’re helping someone else,” Bruce said. “When you’re dealing with something from the heart, it’s easier.”

Though he shied away from revealing whether a fourth Courtnall Celebrity Classic is in the cards, Bruce said the recent achievement is encouraging.

The brothers are all too painfully aware of the cost that can come with mental illness, since they have paid the ultimate price.

Their father, Archie, ended his life in 1978 when the boys were young. That prompted them to host Courtnall Celebrity Classics in 2003 and 2004, which generated more than $2 million and allowed them to open the Archie Courtnall Centre, which continues to provide emergency psychiatric services.

“It’s definitely emotional,” Bruce said of their journey. “It’s helped us heal.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

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