Sask. Brain Injury Association’s largest fundraiser gives thousands to Prince Albert members

About 30 people participated in the Brain Boogie walk at the Prince Albert Elk's Club on Sept. 7, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“Brain tumours, aneurisms, it can hit you anywhere, anytime.”

– Connie Farish

Prince Albert’s Brain Boogie on Saturday raised over $7,000 to support local members of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA).

The event consisted of a walk, barbecue and auction. Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback, Deputy Mayor Don Cody and Liberal Candidate for Prince Albert Estelle Hjertaas made speeches before the walk.

The city’s branch has a support group every month, but members also attend the SBIA’s retreats in Regina and Saskatoon.

One of these members is Connie Farish. She’s been helping raise money through the Brain Boogie for years, contacting businesses for sponsorships and donations.

She joined the sea of participants in bright pink T-shirts for the walk, which started at the Elk’s Club.

In 2014, Farish said she starting losing focus while working at her computer.

“(I) said ‘Something’s not right. I’m going to go get it checked’ and found out that I had a brain tumour,” she explained.

“Coming from the operation after five hours of being on the table, you have the side effects of losing feeling in one side of your body, learning how to walk. I had two speech therapists working with me to speak again.”

But being part of the SBIA allows Farish to be around others dealing with similar effects. They bond at movie and bowling nights, to name a couple of activities they do together.

“It’s just an awesome feeling to help give back,” she said.

“Brain injuries…they happen to any department, from working outside in forestry, hockey, sports of all kinds, driving your motor vehicle, slipping and falling, banging your head on the street curb. Brain tumours, aneurisms, it can hit you anywhere, anytime,” said Farish.

Connie Farish, a member of the Prince Albert branch of the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA), helps prepare for the Brain Boogie at the Elk’s Club on Sept. 7, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

According to Tracey Monette, events and volunteer coordinator for the SBIA, brain injuries are the number one disabler for people under 40 years old.

“A concussion is a brain injury. A lot of people don’t understand that. When we talk about brain injury survivors, it’s important for them to have a support group like this because a lot of them have lost their personal support, family or friends that don’t know how or understand the troubles and trauma that they’ve gone through,” she said.

Raising awareness about brain injuries in children is something Elaine Perkins is particularly passionate about.

She lives in Shellbrook and is a member of the Saskatchewan Royal Purple, which has partnered with the SBIA for about five years.

“The young ones from 14 and up think that they don’t need helmets, think they’re invincible, so we’re trying to bring awareness of how important it is,” said Perkins.

“We can’t put ourselves in glass cages or bubble wrap and these kids have to have fun. If they can still have fun and be aware, that’s what we’re working towards, plus supporting SBIA.”

She said the Royal Purple will have donated about $100,000 to the SBIA since they’ve partnered, and that she’s found people will join the group solely because they support the non-profit organization.

“It really is an emotional thing for me. To think in five years we have grown this much and got this much going,” said Perkins.

The Brain Boogie is the SBIA’s largest fundraiser. An average of 50 people attend the event in Prince Albert.