A virtual fundraiser concert for mental health raises money and awareness for CASP
In early February 2021, inspired by his own past mental health challenges along with a love for music and wanting to help others in his own small way, especially during a pandemic, Toronto musician, Darryl Seunath (also known by his stage name, Darryl Summers) approached CASP with the idea of hosting a virtual fundraiser concert for mental health.
CASP, always ready to be a champion of mental health initiatives, especially when a creative outlet such as music is involved, agreed: and, with Darryl at the helm, became involved with the “Be The Light” Virtual Concert for Mental Health. The event was created to connect people through music to achieve the goal of sharing music around the themes of hope, positivity, togetherness and mental health. As a result, CASP became a shared recipient of proceeds along with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Wanting to emphasize and highlight that we all have a story and to remind others that they’re not alone, especially those struggling with their own mental health challenges or living with a mental health illness, 14 musicians from across the country came together to bring messages of positivity and inspiration to a virtual audience on the evening of Friday, June 4, 2021.
When Darryl was asked why he was interested in donating to CASP, he indicated a musician friend had mentioned how CASP had helped them get past that difficult moment in their life and were passionate about advocating and raising awareness for the organization. Unfamiliar with CASP himself, their story gave Darryl an opportunity to do some research and he connected with our mandate, having himself lost two friends to suicide.
Having had his own struggles with mental health and hoping to inspire and encourage those with their own mental health challenges to feel comfortable talking to someone about it, Darryl felt music was the perfect way of healing and connecting people while reminding others that it was okay not to feel okay.
Going into planning this event, Darryl’s expected or intended audience was initially anyone who may be struggling with mental health challenges or living with a mental health illness. During the preparation of the event itself, the intended audience expanded to other musicians, friends, family, colleagues and really anyone and everyone who enjoyed listening to music. His philosophy for this event was to focus on making a difference for at least one person.
When asked what kind an effort it took to organize such a fundraiser like this, Darryl indicates he doesn’t recall pushing himself for something as much as he did to strive to make this event as successful as possible. Thankfully, with the amazing support received and the contagious and electric energy he felt from everyone, that kept inspiring and pushing him to give his best effort possible.
Having never been involved in something like this before, let alone be the person creating the event itself, Darryl indicates it was certainly an experience he will never forget and surpassed his expectations. “Be The Light” was an all-around “team effort” which he is incredibly grateful and thankful for the support he received before, during and after the event.
Darryl found it challenging to work out a lot of the logistics and technical details for live music because of Covid-related restrictions. The musicians spanned across Canada and one of them was actually in The Bahamas. However, the pandemic itself was also one of the reasons Darryl wanted to do this event in the first place. He wanted to help keep music alive and vibrant while raising awareness for mental health – which, in his opinion, became a front and centre important daily conversation throughout the pandemic.
From the feedback he received after the event was over, especially from all the supporters and people involved in the event itself, he thinks it was received very well.
Happy with his efforts and results, Darryl learned a lot during this experience, which makes him excited to improve on the things. The knowledge he gained is something he would like to build on to hopefully make this event an even greater experience the next time around. He is looking forward to organizing something that can hopefully be shared and experienced in person one day.
In terms of Darryl’s fundraising goals, originally he set the overall target for “Be The Light” at $1,000. With the contagious and electric energy and support; he doubled his target to $2,000. Having no previous fundraising experience of this kind, he admits he was nervous and anxious about it. Thanks to the incredible and generous support from everyone, he was able to exceed his target reaching a final fundraising total of $2,250 at the end of the campaign.
Darryl would like to extend a “thank you” to CASP for their support of “Be The Light”, including CASP’s Executive Director saying a few words during the event. CASP’s flame logo is something Darryl envisions when he thinks about how we all have our own inner light, ready to shine brighter than ever. He feels that inner light shines the brightest when we are able to be ourselves. Darryl feels the support and collaboration with CASP has helped him feel more comfortable being himself throughout his journey.
In terms of suicide prevention, Darryl feels this topic still needs to have more awareness and conversations. Reflecting on the time when he was growing up, it was a world that would not openly talk about it as it was a taboo topic in society. In today’s world, there are more open dialogues, publications and conversations, which he thinks is a really good thing. Darryl hopes the dialogues and conversations allow those involved to feel comfortable with being themselves as he feels that is when the conversation becomes real.
CASP appreciates and would like to thank Darryl and all those involved with ”Be The Light” and their efforts in raising both funds and awareness on the topic of suicide prevention and mental health.