Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund reaches milestone of 150th donation
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Last week, the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund crossed a notable threshold, donating its 150th defibrillator, dating back to the organization’s first donation in October of 2009 at Blyth’s Memorial Community Hall.
The charity has spent the last 13 years placing life-saving defibrillators in public settings, each in the name of a fallen soldier or emergency responder. This built on the legacy of Mounsey, a Blyth-based police officer and volunteer firefighter who died in a single-vehicle collision in 2006. At the time of his death, he had just completed a run in an effort to raise enough money to buy a defibrillator for the Blyth Fire Department.
The first donation, made in Mounsey’s home community of Blyth, was dedicated in his name.
The 150th defibrillator donation was made on Thursday, Nov. 24 at Cornerstone to Recovery - The Garden, a non-profit addiction recovery agency based in Newmarket. The defibrillator was placed in honour of Private Kevin McKay of Barrie, a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
In fact, the 151st donation is already in the books, scheduled to take place on Nov. 30. The defibrillator would be placed at the Clinton Co-operative Childcare Centre in honour of Detective Constable Frank Albert Williams of the Toronto Police Service. The Clinton native was murdered in Toronto in 1918.
Mounsey died in late 2006, but his legacy has lived on through the Fund, created by Patrick Armstrong and Dave Matheson. The first defibrillator donation was made in 2009. Most importantly, Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund-placed defibrillators have saved six lives over the course of that time.
Armstrong, in an interview with The Citizen, admits that not everyone thought the charity would be successful back in its early days.
He is happy to have proven some of the doubters wrong and can now count them among some of the Fund’s biggest supporters. He doesn’t say that in a cruel, I-told-you-so manner, he said, because he knows it’s difficult to start a small-scale charity. However, perseverance with a good idea, he said, can be inspiring and there are likely others out there who want to give back and can look to the success of the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund as a reason to keep going in the face of criticism.
He said it has been a meaningful experience for him and the others who are involved because of the two-pronged mission of the Fund. While it places defibrillators in public buildings where they can - and have - saved lives, it’s also about honouring the legacies of emergency responders and soldiers who are now longer with us.
He says his work growing the Fund has really demonstrated how small of a world it can be.
Armstrong said of a recent donation that he was having a difficult time locating any family members of a soldier he wanted to honour and kept coming up short. Then, on the eve of the donation, he heard from a grandson who said he couldn’t attend, but that Armstrong could call his mother, who, it ended up, was working where the donation was being made. Those connections and others have really left their mark on Armstrong, he said.
Further to that point, he said that an amazing byproduct of the work the Fund has done over the years has been the creation of a community of first responders and family members of those who have been killed in the line of duty who have come together and met one another through the Fund. Their support and enthusiasm for the Fund and its events, evident in the 100K in a Day fundraiser in recent years, has been a silver lining for all involved, Armstrong said.
Thinking back to the early days of the Fund and those who worked to get it off the ground, Armstrong said it wouldn’t have happened without his co-founder Matheson, who helped Armstrong craft the idea and encouraged him to try and make it a reality. He also thanked Mounsey’s family, Mounsey’s partner at the time Brenda, who is now involved with the Fund’s Run Around the Square, and the late Paul Josling, who was among the first board members.
He also spoke fondly of Lincoln and Laurie Dinning, who were supporters of the Fund from the beginning. Armstrong said he knew their son Matthew, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan, and he had also worked with Lincoln on the Ontario Provincial Police. Their support of the Fund, he said, has been unwavering.
He also said that two organizations that have been supporting the Fund for as long as it’s been in existence have been the Ontario Provincial Police Association and the Blyth Firefighters’ Association.
Looking ahead, Armstrong said he hopes the Fund will continue its good work. A return to in-person fundraising events is underway with the Dancing with the Stars and Run Around the Square fundraisers, as well as the continuation of the 100K in a Day event, which will travel through the Essex County area next year.
For more information on the Fund and its over 150 donations, visit online at davemounsey.com