Heart and stroke foundation calls off major fundraiser

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Jen Bogart, left, stroke survivor, and Charlotte Comrie, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation, were on hand at the Eastlink Centre, Wednesday, for the announcement of the new fundraising project Quarter Magic. The foundation will attempt to break the existing Guinness World record for the longest line of coins.

The P.E.I. Heart and Stroke Foundation has abandoned its Quarter Magic fundraiser, an effort to set a world record for the longest line of coins.

In May, the foundation announced plans for a new initiative that required 3,382,808 quarters to create an 80-kilometre line of quarters. It was going to be set up at Eastlink Centre on Nov. 22.

Charlotte Comrie, CEO of the foundation, said things didn’t go quite according to plan.

“The returns that we needed to really make a healthy stab at breaking the record just weren’t there,’’ Comrie said Monday. “We just didn’t have the confidence we needed to be able to even come close to breaking the record.

“Rather than spend more money and not have at least the confidence that we were making a really good stab at it, we decided to cancel the event.’’

The foundation would have raised $845,702 if it had worked, money it was going to use to fund a three-year campaign on recognizing the signs of a stroke and hammering home the message that people should call 911 immediately if they notice those signs. A month after the news conference to announce the fundraiser, a mere $1,000 had come in.

“I am hugely disappointed,’’ she said. “It was such a fun event, innovative, unique; there were all kinds of good things to say about it. We worked hard for just over a year, driving it, deciding to kick it off, we had all kinds of volunteers and colleagues involved. We just weren’t able to sustain (momentum).’’

Jen Bogart, a 39-year-old Charlottetown woman who survived a stroke last year and has since become the face of the national campaign, said the message remains the same.

“I am disappointed,’’ Bogart said, “but I know they’re not giving up on research and certainly they’re not giving up on how important it is to educate people on the signs of a stroke, and how vital it is to call 911 right away.’’

In P.E.I., about 350 strokes occur each year. At any given time, there are 800 stroke survivors in the province, many of them living with varying degrees of disability.

The clot-busting drug tPA, which saved Bogart’s life, can be administered to people with ischemic stroke and minimize the damage but the window for receiving this medication is between three and four hours from the onset of symptoms.

Bogart, who said she stayed in shape prior to her stoke and maintained a healthy weight, is proof that it can happen to anyone.

“Anybody at any point can have a stroke,’’ she said.

Comrie said the foundation is looking at ways to try and raise a portion of what Quarter Magic could have.

“But right now we don’t have a specific event in mind.’’

Signs of Stroke

- Signs of a stroke include weakness, trouble speaking, vision problems, headache and dizziness.

Organizations: Eastlink Centre

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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