Students from a Western University fraternity hope to raise a record-breaking $20,000 for Western’s mental health services through a camp-out fundraiser next week.
The Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health is an annual fundraiser held by the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity since 2010 in honour of Austen Berlet, a physics student who had bipolar disorder and passed away in 2009. Trevor Wright, one of the event’s organizers, explained the event raises around $10,000 to $15,000 every year. The funds are donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex, which dedicates the money to improving mental health services on Western's campus.
Money raised from the event has funded drop-in exam-time stress counselling at Western during March and April for the past three years. This year, Wright hopes to raise a record-breaking $20,000 to help expand this initiative.
“That’s something we take a lot of pride in,” said Wright. “Our goal is to always raise more and more money so that those services can be expanded. So instead of just four weeks, hopefully next year they’ll be six weeks depending on how much we raise."
Wright explained the event will see 20 or 30 participants sleeping outside on Concrete Beach. This year, the event will also host an arts festival held in the Wave on the evening of the camp-out. The festival will include four popular Western bands: the B-Club, Del, Fox and Hound, and Fat Chance, as well as an art show by the University Students' Council Public Arts Commission.
“It's going to be a very positive, uplifting evening, where we all come together and help build the community we want to live in,” said Wright.
The event will take place on the evening of March 29, starting with the arts festival at 7 p.m. Students can buy tickets and find more information on the event's Facebook page.