Garry & Elizabeth Johnston receive award from Martha Billes, owner of Canadian Tire

By Michelle Poirier

Garry and Elizabeth Johnston, owners of the Keswick Canadian Tire, were named Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charities Dealer of the Year, during a surprise party at their store on September 15.

“I was certainly surprised, I had no idea that we were winning an award for what we do with Jumpstart, but certainly a very pleasant surprise,” Garry Johnston said.

Gary and Elizabeth Johnston have run the Lake Simcoe Championship Ice Fishing Derby for the past five years. It is a not-for-profit charity they started to raise funds for Jumpstart.

The 2020 derby in February raised just shy of $70,000 and all of that money went to Jumpstart. In the last five years the derby has generated almost $250,000 for the charity.

“The ice fishing derby is what I would call our vessel for raising money in large amounts for Jumpstart. We do other things for Jumpstart throughout the year, we raise money though cash register donations, customers give Canadian tire money back and it goes to Jumpstart. But the major amount has been raised over the last five years through the Lake Simcoe Championship Ice Fishing Derby,” Garry said.

The Jumpstart Charities website says 100 per cent of the funds donated to the local Jumpstart chapters stays in the community and gives children aged four to 18 equal access to sports and physical activity. Having access to these things raises children’s self-esteem, helps with their teamwork and social skills, and getting active can improve their academic work.

Garry said this award is a major achievement and is an award that one would typically only win once.

“It’s almost more like a lifetime achievement award,” he said.

He said he and Elizabeth started the ice fishing derby five years ago because, although they had been raising a good amount of money for the charity before, they were getting to the point where they were getting more applications from children in need then they had money to support them.

“Elizabeth and I said well this can’t happen, we’ve got to do something to raise more money for Jumpstart so no kid will ever be turned away when they have an opportunity to get Jumpstart money and be active in sports,” he said.

At the same time they were coming up with ideas for raising money for Jumpstart, he said they noticed ice fishing derbies were disappearing from Georgina.

“The two things sort of came at the same time. The idea of the ice fishing derby with all proceeds going to Jumpstart, so we set up a not for profit and Elizabeth and I endeavoured to set up a lottery in support of Jumpstart that goes hand in hand with the ice fishing derby so that we could raise substantial money for kids in Georgina,” he said.

The derby brings people from all over Ontario and even from the United States together to fish and raise money for children in need.

“We will continue to do everything we can to raise money for kids in our community, it’s what I want to do, it’s the right thing to do and Elizabeth and I work very, very hard at this,” he said.

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