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Stratford elementary student raises close to $9,000 for mental health

Denise Carragher, left, and her daughter, Ellen, hold some of the items snapped up in an auction that was held in conjunction with a public skate for mental health this past weekend. Ellen decided to hold the fundraising skate instead of having her birthday this year.
Denise Carragher, left, and her daughter, Ellen, hold some of the items snapped up in an auction that was held in conjunction with a public skate for mental health this past weekend. Ellen decided to hold the fundraising skate instead of having her birthday this year.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Ellen Carragher couldn’t wipe the smile off her face Tuesday when asked how her fundraiser went on the weekend.

Ellen Carragher, right, laughs with a friend during the Skate for Mental Health in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association of P.E.I. at Eastlink Centre on Saturday. Instead of asking for birthday gifts, the Stratford elementary student decided to hold the fundraising skate.

The 12 year-old Stratford elementary student held at public skate Saturday at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown instead of having a birthday party for herself as many youngsters would.

Ellen has struggled with anxiety since she was five years old. She decided to hold a fundraiser called Skate for Mental Health in memory of her uncle, Fred, who lost his battle with depression in 2015 with the money going to the Canadian Mental Health Association in P.E.I.

Ellen and her mother, Denise, hoped to raise $3,000 through the skate and auction. Instead, will pull in close to $9,000.

“I’m very proud of myself. I think I did an amazing thing,’’ Ellen said. “We were talking (in school) about kind things today and I kept thinking of what I did this weekend and how amazing it turned out, how many people had come and just everything about it was really good. It was perfect.’’

Denise said more than 100 people showed up to skate bringing the tally to just under $2,500. The auction, which closed on Saturday, took in another $5,600. There are also direction donations to the Canadian Mental Health Association to count up.

Denise said Ellen is getting lots of feedback on her efforts.

“She’s getting emails from daycare workers that had her when she was two years old. It’s been incredible and fantastic, not just for the fundraiser but for Ellen as well,’’ mom said.

Denise said this shows what can be accomplished by one little idea.

“One person, one little idea and one caring act has brought in close to $9,000. It just takes one (person) to lead the way. There were a lot of people that got involved in this and backed us and given her so much support she just had to lead the way and she’s going to continue to lead.’’

Bianca McGregor, manager of fund development for the Canadian Mental Health Association in P.E.I., said staff are simply blown away.

“I was there on Saturday and it was just amazing; it was amazing the show of support and the people that came out,’’ McGregor said.

Denise said despite her daughter’s battles with anxiety she isn’t surprised Ellen would come up with an idea like this one.

“She’s really aware of people around her. Really compassionate and thoughtful to what others are feeling and I think it’s because she feels so intensely herself.’’

Denise said Ellen is already thinking ahead to what she can do next year.

“Kind of looks like this just might be a tradition,’’ Denise laughs, referring to the skate-instead-of-a-birthday-bash.

Ellen is thinking bigger than that.

“I’m going to do more things and try and make a difference even more because every little bit helps.’’

 

dave.stewart@tc.tc

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Ellen Carragher, right, skates with her mother Denise during the Skate for Mental Health in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association of P.E.I. at Eastlink Centre on Saturday. Instead of asking for birthday gifts, the Stratford elementary student decided to hold the fundraising skate.

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