Celebrating the brain

Fifth annual BrainLove campaign kicks off with eye on $100,000 goal

Sandi Lougheed and Glenda James share a laugh at the launch of the fi fth annual BrainLove campaign on March 1, 2019 in Prince Albert. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The Saskatchewan Royal Purple and the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA) kicked off brain injury awareness month in Prince Albert with support from the provincial government Friday.

This year, the goal of the two organizations is to raise $25,000, which will push the five-year BrainLove campaign donations to surpass the $100,000 mark on the 25th anniversary of the Saskatchewan Royal Purple Association.

The focus of the 2019 campaign is on making a difference in the lives of young people. The Wear a Helmet for a Day and awareness posters projects will be taken to schools, clinics and doctor’s offices. The intent is to promote safety and prevent brain injuries from occurring in children. The project will be supported by the Saskatchewan Royal Purple.

The Saskatchewan Royal Purple has been one of three permanent sponsors and partners of the SBIA since 2014. The campaign has now spread beyond Saskatchewan, with Royal Purple lodges in Manitoba, Ontario and BC taking on the task of raising funds and awareness for brain injury prevention and treatment. 

“Thank you, all of you, because you have made a tremendous difference,” SBIA executive director Glenda James said.

“I still remember the first day (the Royal Purple) called me. I never imagined the call would evolve into this marvellous program we are now participating in.”

James credited the Saskatchewan Royal Purple with raising the profile of the SBIA across Saskatchewan.

“I often refer to Royal Purple as our arms and legs around the province,” she said.

“You’re a source of relationships, of community connections, of learning new things. Those are all things that are very brain healthy. We’re so glad to be partners with you.”

In addition to the funds raised by Royal Purple lodges to support SBIA, the agency receives about 1/3 of its funding from SGI. That funding goes towards daily operations. Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave was invited to speak at the launch of the 2019 BrainLove campaign Friday.

“I want to congratulate you for joining in this wonderful partnership we have with the Brain Injury Association,” Hargrave said to the Saskatchewan Royal Purple.

“It’s a great partnership, one that’s valued, and crucial if we want to make a difference.”

Hargrave said the province is looking at the issue of mandatory helmet laws, an issue SBIA has been lobbying hard on. He wouldn’t commit to bringing in a piece of legislation one way or the other but did encourage people to wear helmets.

Joe Hargrave speaks at the fifth annual BrainLove kickoff on March 1, 2019 as Sandi Lougheed and Kelly Christman look on. (Peter Lozinski/Dialy Herald)

“We want to prevent people from getting a brain injury,” he said.

Hargrave wasn’t the only dignitary on hand Friday. The national president of Royal Purple, Kelly Christman, made the trip from Bassano, Alta. to speak at the launch of BrainLove.

“Our national tagline is ‘our cause is your cause.’ That leaves it wide open fro province t province, from lodge to lodge, from club to club,” she said.

“This one is pretty unique. About 200 Saskatchewan Royal Purple Members … have come together and set an ambitious goal. This project exemplifies the power of purple and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Christman said it’s difficult to get any group of people working together for a common goal, let along a whole province.

“It’s impressive how this has grown,” she said. “It really is. Best wishes to all involved, and keep on purpling.”

For some of the cause’s original organizers, seeing people like Hargrave and Christman on hand to launch their annual campaign was a huge honour.

“The Saskatchewan Royal Purple is overwhelmed with the amount of support we’ve gotten from our communities and from the province, and from the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association as well,” said Sandi Lougheed, the charity chairperson.

“We were in a little room making that very first phone call, and that was only five years ago. (Brain injuries) have been a face that has gone unknown and unrecognized, and in some cases, without any help. We’re just so happy to have been able to help turn this around.”

Members of the Prince Albert Royal Purple present a pledge of $3,000 to Glenda James of SBIA for the 2019 BrainLove campaign. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

While funding from the government helps with operations and with running three large retreats a year, the money raised by Royal Purple members has helped to launch smaller projects in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Kindersley and Yorkton. Those connections, James said, help the SBIA support brain injury survivors. That growth and the support seen Friday blew Lougheed away.

“To have a government minister come and recognize the work we do as volunteers is absolutely awesome,” she said.

“The volunteers in this room are wired. They’re so happy to see that kind of support. To see our national president come from Alberta and say thank you to us face to face, volunteer to volunteer, is really important.”

SBIA and the Saskatchewan Royal Purple also unveiled their new acronym Friday. The acronym uses the letters BrainLove to remind people to treat their brains right.

The hope is people will consider all facets of brain health to keep their heads healthy.

Balance your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol

Rest and meditate

Adopt healthy eating habits

Invest in your emotional and mental health

Nurture relationships with friends, family and community

Learn something new – a hobby, language or skill

Oust alcohol, tobacco and drugs

Visit your doctor regularly

Exercise often