Nova Scotia

Halifax man restarts New Year's Eve fundraiser after own illness

A Halifax man is celebrating the new year after raising thousands of dollars to help patients at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

Craig MacDonald hosts event to help families of neuroscience patients

Craig MacDonald decided to raise money for neuroscience patients after spending two months in hospital in Edmonton. (Submitted by Craig MacDonald)

When Craig MacDonald's friends started complaining that they had nothing to do on New Year's Eve, he accepted their challenge and decided to turn their boredom into a fundraiser to help others.

That was in 2006. For eight years, MacDonald planned elaborate parties at hotels and convention centres in Halifax, selling tickets to send children on trips through the Children's Wish Foundation.

"It built and built and built into something really special," he said. 

Personal cause

He took a break from his efforts when he moved to Edmonton in 2013, but now that he's back home, MacDonald decided to return to his passion project, only this time it was for a much more personal cause.

Saturday night, 300 people filled the Halifax Central Library, helping MacDonald raise money for neuroscience patients at the QEII Hospital in Halifax.

It's a cause he knows a lot about. MacDonald has a rare form of neuromuscular disease.

While he was living in Alberta, he was hospitalized for two months. At that time, his father and stepmother flew out to support him. MacDonald said he worried about the financial toll that took on his family, and decided that when he was well enough, he would support others in a similar position.

Starting a fund

He estimates Saturday night's event raised $6,000. The money will be put in a fund created through the Health Sciences Centre Foundation called the Craig Mac Comfort Initiative, or the CMCI.

"Everybody that attended the event knows where this money is going. We're all part of this big project that we get to help someone else out."

The money will now be available for families who have to incur travel costs or need accommodations while they visit patients. 

"There's lots of people that have bigger neuromuscular conditions than I have that go through more than I do," he said. "But what we all have in common is to know what it's like being in the hospital, and being there for long periods of time.

'Give a little hope'

"It's stressful. So to take away the unneeded stress and the financial stress and to give a little hope and make people happy, is what it's all about."

MacDonald, who is a teacher, plans to host four events a year to raise money for the CMCI. 

He says he's driven by the memory of his late mother, who passed away just over a week before his first new year's party in 2006. 

"This is my passion. This is just the beginning."