PEI

Easter Seals hoping to bounce back after tough year

Like many events, the Easter Seals school tour did not go ahead last year and likely won't this year, so the ambassador is getting a three-year assignment.

'It was a tough year all around'

'She'll be the only Easter Seals ambassador in perhaps in all of Canada who has served for three years,' says Bill Martin, left, about Vaeda Matheson, right. (Jeff Matheson)

It's no secret that 2020 was a tough year, and the Easter Seals Society of P.E.I. certainly felt it.

After expenses, the group only made $40,000 — that's about one third of what it usually collects. 

The downturn in donations was largely due to the fact there was no school, no ambassador school tour and very little fundraising as a result. 

"It was a tough year all around," said Bill Martin, chair of the Easter Seals campaign.

'I'm so excited to do it again when COVID is over,' Vaeda says. (Jeff Matheson)

Martin said fewer donations mean less support for programs for children with disabilities. 

"We can't send them money we don't have." 

Ambassador will get 3-year appointment

Vaeda said it was a 'bummer' when the school tour was cancelled but she did get to attend some hockey fundraisers. (Jeff Matheson)

Martin said it's not just about the financial loss but the loss of experience for the Easter Seal's ambassador, Vaeda Matheson.

The good news is they've reappointed her for a three-year term, which may help her do a school tour eventually, as it's unlikely there will be a 2021 tour. 

"We owe it to her," Martin said. 

"She'll be the only Easter Seals ambassador in perhaps in all of Canada who has served for three years."

'I'm so excited to do it again'

Vaeda, who has overcome many more challenges than a cancelled school tour, is as bubbly as ever, and focused on what's ahead. 

A photo of Vaeda Matheson from last year's campaign. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

"I'm so excited to do it again when COVID is over," she said. 

The nine-year-old West Kent student from Charlottetown has cerebral palsy. 

She also has her own YouTube channel. 

She said it was a "bummer" when the school tour was cancelled but she did get to attend some hockey fundraisers and luncheons. 

"I just don't worry," she said. 

She said she really wants everyone to know it's OK to be different. 

"I want everyone to follow their heart and do what they want to do, because then they would be themselves." 

Ambassador with a big heart

Her mom, Lorrie Jollimore, said Vaeda was unable to move her left side as a baby, but by age three, she was able to walk.

She said Vaeda has gained a lot of movement through physio and occupational therapy.

We're going to branch out far beyond what we've done in the past.— Bill Martin

"As a parent it's just awesome to watch and witness," Jollimore said. 

Jollimore said her daughter has a knack for making people feel better.

"She has the biggest heart and is a very caring little friend to many," she said. 

Corporate focus

A paper egg campaign will begin the second week of March, where people can buy paper eggs from a number of retail locations to show their support. 

Martin said it's expanded to 12 new locations. 

The group will also be seeking out many more corporate sponsors. 

"We're going to branch out far beyond what we've done in the past." 

He said they also recently found out the group will receive close to $60,000 from a national Easter Seals group, which will go a long way to helping the campaign this year. 

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