PEI

Moo Let's Talk Day raises $30K

What was going to be a sombre day for a P.E.I. family turned into something beyond their wildest expectations when thousands of Islanders came out to eat ice cream, share their stories and raise awareness about mental health.

Proceeds from ice cream sales donated to CMHA's P.E.I. division

The event was held on what would have been Jason Driscoll's 22nd birthday. (Submitted by Joe Driscoll)

What was going to be a sombre day for a P.E.I. family turned into something beyond their wildest expectations when thousands of Islanders came out to eat ice cream, share their stories and raise awareness about mental health.

Heather and Joe Driscoll said they were still riding on a high this weekend after crowds of people turned out for Thursday's Moo Let's Talk Day held at Cows Creamery locations in Charlottetown and at the University of Prince Edward Island.

It was the same day, March 1, that would have been their son Jason's 22nd birthday. He lost his life to suicide last year.

Cows created T-shirts and donated proceeds from ice cream sales to the Canadian Mental Health Association's P.E.I. division. Approximately $30,000 was raised, with a final tally expected on Monday, a Cows spokesperson said on Sunday.

The ice cream maker also said it would be holding the event annually.

"We could have never imagined the turnout that happened, it was just beyond belief," Joe Driscoll said.

Heather, Vanessa and Joe Driscoll at the Moo Let's Talk Day on March 1, 2018. (Submitted by Joe Driscoll)

"They say suicide, people don't want to talk about it, but they sure did that day," Heather Driscoll said. "They sure came out in numbers to support us ... people were sharing their stories, it was just awesome."

The turnout showed them how much people care about Jason and his story, his parents said.

Thousands of Islanders bought ice cream and wore shirts to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association. (Submitted by Joe Driscoll)

"To think that people would take a cold day in March and come out and eat ice cream in memory of our son who they didn't even know ... it was pretty amazing," Joe Driscoll said.

Not only did people come out to support the Driscolls and raise money for CMHA, they were telling their own stories.

Joe Driscoll said people offered their sympathies and spoke about their own experiences.

"It was just so therapeutic for people to do that and it made our hearts feel better because we were able to speak to those people and give them some sense that things will get better here," he said. 

"They weren't just there to eat ice cream and buy a shirt, they were talking, everybody was sharing," Heather Driscoll said. "It was just magic in the stores and at UPEI." 

The Driscolls said it was an important event for the contributions made to CMHA P.E.I. and, more importantly, to raise awareness and get everybody talking.

"I was blown away," Heather Driscoll said. "The biggest thing it raised was awareness, it's not just about the money. It's that people are engaging and they want to talk about it, that was loud and clear."

While they had just four weeks to plan for this year's event, they are looking forward to having more time to make next year's event bigger and better.

"We were just so happy to hear that it was going to be a yearly event and on Jason's birthday," Joe Driscoll said. "What better way to celebrate his birthday every year?"

With files from Brittany Spencer

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