No Dress Rehearsal

Sitting in the car with my son, Mark, we often listen to music. All kinds. It ranges anywhere from Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Halen to the Fortunate Ones. It’s our thing and it’s often the best part of my day. One of Mark’s favourites, and mine too is Ahead by a Century by the Hip and he belts it like nothing else. A rock star well beyond his years! It’s such a great tune. Every time we sing it, I feel something different. A different interpretation of the lyrics, like a poem being dissected. This week something in there really hit me.

This week was filled with a lot of emotions. A lot of pressure. Brendan Paddick, Alan Doyle and I launched a passion project that we’ve been collaborating on for some time. We officially started a charity dedicated to mental health and battling addictions.

It all started as an idea from Alan. There was this panhandler he’d see all the time and to whom he’d always give whatever pocket change he had. We talked about it one Christmas when we were all walking down Water Street. Turns out the three of us have been deeply touched by mental health and addiction issues personally and directly. The cause was not only a social-economic problem. It was also deeply personal. We were chatting about how sometimes the source of that problem is a lack mental health care or addictions and that while giving the man a dollar helped him, maybe it didn’t get to the source of the problem. What if instead of giving to the individual, we created a way that everyone could give to the cause?

We decided to create A Dollar a Day Foundation. The idea was simple. If everyone could give a dollar, we would find the causes that dealt with the issues on the ground, on the front lines. As we did our research, it revealed what we already knew deep down. Everyone is affected by these issues. Every family in every corner of the country and every part of society. It is an issue for us all and we all need to be part of the solution.

So how do we do that?

The answer has to be simple. It has to be an equal opportunity for all. And the amount needs to be small enough to be easily affordable. One dollar a day to help fund programs for addictions and mental health, not just at home but across Canada. If this touches us all and even if we all give just a small fraction, we could affect real change. We met for over a year just hammering out the concept and details and decided to launch it this week.

As a doctor, I see these issues all the time. As a member of a family, I live these issues all the time. But to speak out and ask others to join was making me nervous. I am not a medical expert in mental health. Put me in front of a mic and ask about broken bones, no problem. A broken psyche, however, is deeply personal and can’t be seen on an x-ray. Could I do it? Could the three of us do it? Alan has played to millions over his career. Brendan’s business puts him in the boardrooms of billionaires. Were they feeling the same?

No dress rehearsal. This is our life…  

That’s what stuck. Hearing Mark rip out those lyrics. The word “our” echoed around in my head. We are all in this together. None of us are alone. And we need to help others who sometimes just can’t see it.

There’s a strength in numbers. Whether it is depression, anxiety, or substance abuse issues when one hurts we all hurt. But if one person feels the shoulder of another, we are all better for it.

A dollar a day is our way of trying to help us, the collective us.

My nervousness recedes. I realize there is no low water mark for failure or ceiling for success. Together, we can bring change by asking for a little change. Can’t wait to see where this takes us.



Ps. You can help make a difference. Small change to make a big change! Join Alan, Brendan and I by showing your support here… A Dollar a Day.