A former P.E.I. educational assistant’s passion for teaching children and love of music served as the inspiration behind a talent show fundraiser this weekend.
The first ever Red Nose Talent Show included P.E.I. youth performers take the stage and raise at least $11,000 for P.E.I.’s Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) at Holland College’s Florence Simmons Performance Hall Saturday.
Organizer Kate Flanagan said the event was in memory of Lisa Carragher, an EA and tutor who left an impact on a number of P.E.I. youth including Flanagan’s own son.
The name red nose came from Carragher’s light-hearted attitude and the humour she would incorporate into teaching, said Flanagan.
“She used to wear a red clown nose sometimes when she would tutor my son. She would incorporate laugher and fun, her goal was to always make learning fun,” said Flanagan, adding that mental health awareness was an important cause to Carragher. “Lisa Carragher was a lovely, compassionate person who had a passionate gift for helping children.”
The event saw 15 different performances that ranged from singing and dancing to gymnastics and comedy.
Flanagan said she knew Carragher was “watching in spirit with her big beautiful smile” and would have been proud of all the young performers.
Carragher’s son, Logan O’Donnell, was one of the event’s three judges, which also included musicians Meaghan Blanchard and Kinley Dowling.
Audience members also got to vote, with the winner being selected through a combination of audience participation and the judging panel.
Young musicians Matthew Mahood and Jack Flanagan won the top prize of $1,000 after performing a comedic skit that involved them doing a “jam-off.”
“It felt pretty good, I wasn’t really expecting to win… all the acts were really good,” said Mahood.
A separate $500 award titled “Lisa’s Choice” was determined by Carragher’s family and went to Emma Richards, who sang and played ukulele.
Reid Burke, executive director of CMHA in P.E.I., said the money raised will go towards delivering mental health programs as well as promotion and prevention.
Burke said an added benefit to the talent show was that it raised mental health awareness among the youth population.
“Young people encounter a lot of things throughout their lives that may challenge them, I don’t think you can start early enough (when it comes to) thinking about your mental health,” he said. “It’s a terrific event.”
Flanagan thanked those involved in the event, including show producer Brent Burns, as well as the show’s committee, volunteers and sponsors.
She said after receiving much positive feedback, she hopes to make the talent show an annual fundraiser.