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Campbell family pays forward loving final wish gift from the community

At the celebration of family and giving, from left at back: Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation; Sally Cowan, Back the Build Campaign Cabinet member; Steve Prinzen; Billi Prinzen; Luke Prinzen; Heather Campbell; Hudson Campbell; Anastasia Campbell and Scott Campbell. At front: Will Prinzen; BJ Campbell; Emerson Campbell; Gary Campbell; Lucia Campbell; Melanie Fida, Back the Build Campaign Cabinet member and Nancy Parks, Back the Build Campaign Cabinet Co-Chairperson. – Sue Capon photo

Dollars to doughnuts, the late Mark Campbell was smiling from above, watching his family members gather to return funds raised by a community that loved him, to back the build of the County’s new hospital.

With grandchildren dressed in special “Grampy” T-shirts featuring artwork created by Mark’s daughter when she was in kindergarten; they all made the trek to the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital from the family cottage, where Mark passed peacefully in May 2019, with four generations at his side.

In January that year, the family had been recipients of loving community support following his terminal cancer diagnosis, as friends hastily arranged a GoFundMe campaign that allowed them all to share Mark’s wish for the entire family to experience a Toronto Maple Leafs game in Toronto.

The family was gob-smacked by a generous community that honoured Mark’s final wish, and his lifetime of community focus through the local Canadian Tire ownership, motorcycling friends, as an optician with his daughter Billie and a volunteer with the local radio station.

The family felt it was important to return the hockey game funds from the community, back to the community. An additional reward for the grandchildren was the promise of a special side trip to buy celebration doughnuts.

Monday morning, Mark’s wife Heather, children Billi and Scott, grandchildren and his parents BJ and Gary, presented $15,767 toward the new hospital campaign which represents the balance of the funds received through the GoFundMe campaign. Right after the hockey game in 2019, Mark and family thanked the community for giving more than $30,000 in the GoFundMe by presenting $10,000 to the hospital and $8,000 to Hospice Prince Edward.

With other donations since Mark’s passing, the Bloomfield-based family and their friends have almost doubled the community’s generosity in gifts back to the hospital campaign.

“In total, over $60,000 has been transferred to PECMHF as a result of donations from Mark’s friends and family,” said Shannon Coull, executive director of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation.

“In recognition of the PEC community’s generosity, the foundation will name a new multi purpose area in the new hospital’s emergency department in Mark’s honor.

The emergency department holds a special place in the hearts of the Campbell family as Mark, 59, was brought there three times leading to the eventual diagnosis of cancer. The family recalls Mark being treated with the utmost respect and care every time he visited.

“Every interaction with Mark’s care team and hospital staff in the time he spent in the PECMH Emergency Department and on 2 South – in the days of acute illness and as we learned of his diagnosis – was filled with kindness and care,” said Heather. “We will always be grateful for the expedient and compassionate care that Mark received. It is fitting to return these funds to our community, who surrounded us and cared for us at a time when we were unable to do so for ourselves. Our gratitude is unending; for the care he and our family received in that time from the hospital staff and our generous community through the gifts towards realizing Mark’s dream.

“Mark and I grew up here, ventured hither and yon, and with our family we returned to our home community 21 years ago. We consider QHC PECMH to be our hospital as we have depended on it for treatment and care throughout our lives, she added. “A part of Mark’s journey continues as we reflect on the generosity and support in all ways that Mark and our family received from this amazing community.

“This hospital is a part of us and was a safe and caring haven for Mark in those early days of his unwellness. I think he would be pleased with our decision to return the GoFundMe funds to the community through the PECMH Foundation’s Back the Build Fund.

Every year, hundreds of families living across Prince Edward County and the Quinte region are impacted by a loved one’s urgent need for medical care.

“We are beyond thankful to the Campbell family for their investment in our new hospital and the multi-purpose area in our emergency department,” said Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation. “In the emergency department, overcrowding can be an issue. “Improving patient flow is always a goal of the care team.

“This is an important space that allows for the patient to remain in an upright posture, whether standing or seated in a chair. Having this room can expedite the medical team’s ability to treat patients quickly and efficiently. These rooms also require less space than conventional emergency department rooms as they do not require a stretcher or a bed. These areas are designed for short-term occupancy so a patient can forgo lying down. With the addition of this room in the new QHC PECMH, patients are likely to experience a shorter visit, which helps increase patient flow and improve the patient experience.”

“An entire community of donors have blazed the trail to make this room naming possible and we know that this generous gift from the Campbell family will leave a lasting legacy. As a member of the PECMHF team, it is a great honour, and I am humbled, to be a part of the Campbell family’s healing journey through these donations.”

“The Campbell family is an outstanding example of the community spirit we see in Prince Edward County. Each gift received in his memory has made a remarkable impact,” said Nancy Parks, Back the Build campaign co-chair. Monday’s donation will also be matched two to one in conjunction with the current Paul B. Helliwell campaign currently under way.

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