Every five minutes, someone in Canada dies from heart disease, stroke or related conditions. Donna Hay feels that impact every day. She lost both her son and mother to cardiovascular disease.
That’s why, every February for more than 20 years, Donna has been walking from house to house in her neighbourhood — currently in Nanaimo, BC — to raise money for Heart & Stroke.
Donna is one of more than 18,000 volunteers across Canada who joined the Heart & Stroke Canvass in 2019, sharing life-saving information with friends and family and raising funds for research.
Canvassing online and in their neighbourhoods, this amazing team had raised a total of $3.5 million by the beginning of May.
Like Donna, many of our canvassers come back year after year, often heading out in the coldest winter weather to knock on doors and gather the donations that make breakthroughs possible. Thank you to all of our canvassers for being a part of this campaign and for their continuous courage, dedication and effort!
A labour of love
For Donna, canvassing for Heart & Stroke pays tribute to the loved ones she lost. “I do it in their memory.”
Dean, her son, was born with a congenital heart defect. By the time he was seven he had undergone two major heart surgeries; he died in 1993, before his 29th birthday. Donna’s mother died of a stroke at age 89. And on New Year’s Eve 2016, Donna had open-heart surgery to replace a narrow aortic valve.
Donna believes sharing her experiences helps people to think about heart disease and stroke in a new way.
“When I talk to people, they think, ‘This woman has been through what I’m experiencing or what people I know are going through.’ I think it makes them feel better to see that I’ve had heart surgery and now I’m out raising money,” Donna says.
Number of volunteer canvassers so far in 2019.
She also takes the opportunity to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke warning signs. “I have friends who pooh-poohed thinking something could be wrong with them, especially women whose symptoms are often different than men’s,” she says.
But there’s power in sharing, Donna adds. “Even people who don’t donate right at the time, I think I give them something to think about.”
- The Heart & Stroke Canvass continues year-round. Learn how you can get involved.