CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Today Jason Driscoll should be blowing out his birthday candles.
Instead, his family, friends and a local business are holding a fundraiser in his memory.
On May 9, 2017, the 21-year-old UPEI engineering student took his own life at his home in Charlottetown.
As a way to honour both Driscoll’s memory and raise awareness around mental health, his family teamed up with Cows Creamery for a special fundraiser.
Jessica MacDonald, director of operations for Cows, said the company was happy to step up and help out the Driscolls, as Jason was a former Cows employee.
“Each store is a little family, so whether they worked there recently or awhile back, they all know each other and it’s just a very difficult thing to go through,” MacDonald said. “We have a lot of young workers, so if we can do anything that prevents this from happening again, then we’re all on board.”
The sales of Cows ice cream products purchased today will go towards the P.E.I. division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), as will sales from a special T-shirt Cows designed for mental health.
The shirt’s design reads, "MOO Let’s Talk - Let’s talk until the cows come home" with "In loving memory of Jason Driscoll" on the back.
There will also be a satellite Cows stand set up in the student union building at UPEI today from 12:30-2:30 p.m., where students can enjoy an ice cream while supporting a good cause.
Driscoll’s father, Joe, said the past year has been tough.
“It’s been a struggle. Myself, my wife and my daughter are left in the house without Jason,” he said. “It’s been rough, but we have good support behind us - lots of friends, lots of family, lots of work relations - without that we wouldn’t probably be even able to do this event. That’s what keeps us going is that kind of support.”
Below is the video posted by Cows featuring the the Driscolls talking about their son (story continues below video)
The community coming together and Cows coming on board has been wonderful, he said.
“I think it just shows that people do have a real desire to make a change in mental health,” he said, adding it’s important to ensure the CMHA on P.E.I. is well-funded and equipped with the tools they need to prevent suicide from happening.
“If it’s going to help just one person then it’s well worth doing it.”
Driscoll said his son was the life of the party and was often found consoling others and helping them when they were having a rough time, and said he would have appreciated the fundraiser.
“I think first of all he’d say, ‘don’t be making such a fuss about me’, but he would be proud,” he said. “Jason would be the first guy that would be doing this for someone else, so that’s why we’re doing it.”
There was no indication his son was in pain, Driscoll said.
“He was just the picture of happiness. It’s unbelievable that someone who had that outward personality could be suffering so much inside,” he said. “How can you possibly get in front of something like that and prevent it from happening when there’s no indications? That’s why the stigma has to stop.”
Just the facts:
- What: MOO Let’s Talk fundraiser and general awareness campaign. Proceeds from ice cream and limited T-shirt sales will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, P.E.I. division.
- When and where: Cows Creamery, 397 Capital Drive from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Cows Charlottetown store, 150 Queen Street from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; W.A. Murphy Student Centre, UPEI campus from 12:30-2:30 p.m.