Nfld. & Labrador

Big things on the horizon for 3rd annual Shifting Gears mental health fundraiser

What will start off as a sombre and sad day will take a positive turn for the family of Jacob Puddister, as they get ready for the third annual Shifting Gears fundraiser event.

Song penned in memory of Jacob Puddister to be played at mental health fundraiser

Kelsey Puddister says this year's Shifting Gears mental health fundraiser, in memory of her brother Jacob Puddister, will be a special one, with the premiere of a new song penned by musician Damian Follett. (Kenny Sharpe/CBC)

What will start off as a sombre and sad day will take an amazingly positive turn for the family of Jacob Puddister, as they get ready for the third annual Shifting Gears fundraiser event.

Kelsey Puddister started the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation for her younger brother, who took his own life after struggling with his mental health for years.

The Shifting Gears fundraiser event in Conception Bay South on Saturday will feature a car show — since Jacob loved cars — as well as a slew of performers taking the stage at an indoor concert, she said, not to mention family activities, food and, if the weather is nice enough, fireworks.

"It's gonna be a great day," said Puddister.

Saturday will start on a sad note for her family, Puddister said, but they'll channel the memory of Jacob and do everything they can to make the day fantastic.

"Tomorrow is the third anniversary of Jake's death, so tomorrow morning we will be waking up with tears in our eyes," she said.

"But we will also get in the car and go to this car show, knowing that hundreds, maybe thousands, will be gathering with us to celebrate that. So it's pretty amazing."

There is also a special unveiling at this year's Shifting Gears fundraiser: the release of a new song in Jake's memory, penned by Damian Follett, called Shifting Gears.

Follett said when he heard the family's story, and the name of the fundraiser event, the song just came to him.

"When I heard that title I was like, 'that's just a great song title,' and literally the song was written in probably 20 minutes," Follett said.

We just want to continue our reach and continue to make those connections and to shift gears. For Jake.- Kelsey Puddister

"They wanted something that was uplifting, and I think it works."

Puddister said when she first heard from Follett about his idea to write a song for Jake, she was apprehensive — until she heard how upbeat it was.

Follett intentionally wrote a great driving song, taking into mind how much Jake loved cars.

"I'm sad, but I'm also bopping my head along, which is kind of the theme of Shifting Gears in itself, so it's wonderful. We're so happy," said Puddister.

"My parents were just so surprised. When I said it was gonna be a song about Jake, they were nervous that it would just be sad. And I said, 'No, no. Just wait.' And they heard it and they were so happy and so overwhelmed — like I was."

Follett will perform the song at Shifting Gears this weekend, sharing the stage with fellow acts like Shanneyganock, Masterless Men and Celtic Connection.

New space for support

All proceeds from the event go to the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation, which has also recently found a new, permanent home, Puddister said.

"We're really excited that we finally secured a space," Puddister said, adding that the foundation will be housed at the former Bacalao restaurant on Lemarchant Road.

The former Bacalao restaurant building on Lemarchant Road in St. John's is soon to be the new home for the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation. (Kenny Sharpe/CBC)

Puddister said the foundation is working hard to get the centre open soon, to give people space they need for mental health resources.

"Beginning in September we'll be able to offer free counselling services to youth, we will be offering group counselling services, we will be offering as many resources as we can to the community," she said.

"We want to offer this space to anybody doing mental health work in our community and we just want to continue our reach and continue to make those connections and to shift gears. For Jake."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

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