Heroic journey saves lives and brings hope to community
By Erin Knutson
The Starlite Campaign kicked off this year with the extraordinary vision of one local man
and a team of supporters willing to go the distance to raise funds for a Foundry in
On Sunday, Nov. 1, Calvin Domin realized his goal to run 175 km in 24 hours. The
arduous journey brought awareness and hope to the community to address youth
mental health issues and the need for proper, accessible, and preventative psychiatric
“The Foundry will offer families and youth in the Kootenays access to a walk-in clinic
and the option to get immediate help,” said Domin.
The heroic long-distance crusader stated that the mental health care system for children
lacks adequate support.
He maintained that expediting the treatment process is essential to crisis prevention and early intervention. According to Domin, “it can alter the trajectory of a young person’s life. By creating a narrative around mental health for young people – it can help open the doorway to treatment,” he said.
The 40-year old distance runner braved unknown conditions and a test of endurance
mentally and physically on the Trans Canada Trail to honour those youth who have died
tragically by overdoses and suicide.
This number has been on the rise in recent years, and Domin’s efforts have helped
raise funds toward the $1.4 million needed to complete Foundry East Kootenay.
The family man, soccer coach, and athlete surpassed his original goal of $7,600.
Instead, he has almost doubled that number in pledges.
Following a grueling training schedule, Domin mentally prepared for the tough road
ahead as he visualized completing the longest distance he’s ever attempted.
His journey started in Sparwood on Oct. 31 and ended in Cranbrook the next day during the morning’s early hours as planned.
Youth from Cranbrook, the Elk Valley, and Jaffray joined him for the race’s last stretch, as he finished to the resounding applause of a cheering crowd.
He was greeted at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital by well-wishers, dignitaries, friends, family, and Starlite officiates.
“It was painful and long but worth it,” he said.
City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka, and the Ktunaxa-Kinbasket Child and Family Service Society were among those in attendance.
Heartfelt speeches addressing youth mental health and the need for additional supports in the community commenced from the speakers with aplomb.
“I’m here to support the cause, and I admire the dedicated effort of the community around us,” said Pratt.
Foundry centres have begun to spring up across British Columbia and have met with
success, according to MLA Shypitka. “I have been to Foundry in British Columbia, and they do amazing things. Most mental health issues present before the age of 18, and if we can get proper supports in place, it can change the course of lives and the outcome,” said Shypitka.
Mental health advocate and suicide survivor Michelle Evans, who lost her 18-year-old daughter Kassy to suicide after a long battle, was also present.
Evans and her family fought hard to save Kassy’s life. They traveled extensively from Cranbrook to more established mental health facilities in Canada and the United States to seek help.
The family was fortunate to have the resources to obtain enhanced psychiatric care for
the teenager, according to Evans, as Kassy’s life took a radical turn in her early teens
when signs of mental illness emerged.
According to Evans, Kassy was no longer herself. She wasn’t able to go out or go to
school. Evans watched her once vibrant and gregarious daughter slowly disappearing
as she fought with OCD and anorexia.
The ordeal impacted the entire family, said Evans. Kassy is survived by her father and
brother. As things progressed, the family dissolved, and the Evans separated.
“There were several diagnoses, and she went for help with severe depression one last
time after years of suffering,” said Evans
In a final attempt to get help, Kassy checked herself into hospital and was admitted
under the Mental Health Act.
“She was desperate and had a suicide plan in place. After being released two days
later, Kassy was gone, and that was it,” said Evans.
Michelle was there to honour her daughter’s memory and to spread the message that
had Kassy received the proper care she needed in her final days; she might still be alive
“I will never be the same – it never really goes away,” said Evans.
Funding is already in place for the project, which exceeds $2 million. Additional funds
will be raised to ensure that the centre is up and running as soon as possible.
Executive Director of the East Kootenay Foundation for Health Brenna Baker hopes to achieve the 18-month goal in six months.
“It will save lives,” she said.
Lead image: Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka (left) and Calvin Domin celebrate a victory for youth mental health at the Starlite Campaign kick-off Sunday, Nov 1. Photo credits: Erin Knutson