When the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society partnered with Canucks Autism Network for a social media campaign to raise funds and awareness for autism, the society figured it would reach $5,000 by the end of the month.
In less than two days of the campaign being shareable online, the $5,000-goal was reached.
On Tuesday morning (April 2) at 10 a.m., Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society (SFFCS) and Canucks Autism Network (CAN) launched a “Did you know?” video on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness about autism during Autism Awareness Month. For each share of the video, SFFCS would donate $1.
“We were hoping by the end of the month, to hit 5,000,” said Dylan Van Rooyen, director of the charitable society.
Halfway through Wednesday, he said, he realized they hit the $5,000-mark.
“Tuesday had a bit of a slow start. It didn’t really pick up on the Surrey fire’s pages or anything. I was kind of monitoring the Canucks (Autism Network) page. Then Wednesday morning, all of a sudden, it started picking up on Instagram. I noticed it hit 20,000 views, and I looked back a half-an-hour later and it jumped to 40,000, (then) 80,000.”
As of 9:21 a.m. on Thursday, CAN announced it would be capping the SFFCS donation at $5,000, so the charitable society could maintain other fundraising commitments.
Then, Vancouver International Airport stepped up to match another $5,000. Since then, BMO, AIG and Canucks for Kids Fund have stepped up with an additional $5,000 each, bringing the total raised to $25,000 in a little more than two days since the campaign started.
“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, the reach, the exposure with this campaign. It’s unbelieveable,” said CAN marketing director Lindsay Petrie.
“We have a lot of families who look to us for support every year, and we aren’t able to accommodate all those interested in participating in our programs, so every dollar counts.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the original Instagram post on CAN’s account had been viewed more than 3.5 million times with more than 600,000 likes.
View this post on Instagram
*UPDATED Apr4, 4:13pm • INCREDIBLE! After originally capping the donations due to overwhelming support, we have received more financial contributions from the community bringing the total raised to $25,000!! In addition to the @SurreyFireFighters donation of $1 for the first 5,000 shares, @YVRAirport, @AquiliniDevelopment @BMOCanada & @CanucksForKids have all stepped up with an additional $5,000 each! Thank you to all who have shared our #autismawareness & #acceptance video! These funds represent an incredible contribution to our programs, training and awareness initiatives that will have a long-lasting impact on individuals and families living with autism across BC. We invite our supporters on social media to continue sharing the video message to further promote autism awareness and acceptance. If any other businesses or partners would like to join in supporting the continued reach of this campaign, we would love to hear from you! Link in bio to full details. #CANDidYouKnow
“Clearly the Instagram post is what’s really taken off,” Petrie told the Now-Leader.
Petrie said the funds will go directly to delivering programs and training initiatives.
For more on the campaign, visit canucksautism.ca/blog.
Van Rooyen said the charitable society was glad they could help to bring awareness to CAN.
The society’s relationship with CAN, he said, started about three years ago when one of the firefighters wanted to co-ordinate training for first responders by bringing in Canucks Autism Network to train the fire responders on how to deal with someone who has autism in an emergency.
“It’s something we see on a fairly regular basis,” said Van Rooyen, adding that it was a successful training and open house.
A sensory-friendly event for families and individuals living with autism is planned for the fire hall at 88th Avenue and 132nd Street on Sunday, April 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.
“Families are invited to meet their local fire fighters, and participate in activities such as a station tour, truck tour, and hose station. This event is open to all families living with autism. You do not need to have a CAN membership to attend,” according to a post on the CAN website.
Registration isn’t required.
With files from Tom Zillich