The donors: Sadie Nielsen, Nick Young, Dan Adcock, Justine Porter, Renee Hrycsychyn, Alex Teha and friends
The gift: Evan Grykuliak Memorial Society
The cause: Raising money for bullying prevention programs in Edmonton schools.
When Evan Grykuliak turned 17 in 2006, his friends organized a birthday party in a community hall in Edmonton. During the evening, Evan went outside to talk to a group that had not been invited. An argument ensued and Evan was stabbed to death by a teenage gang member.
The murder stunned Evan’s friends and they vowed to honour his memory by creating the Evan Grykuliak Memorial Society. The group “wanted to create a legacy for Evan and promote ending of youth violence,” said Sadie Neilsen, 25, who knew Evan and is on the society’s board.
The Society started out organizing a soccer game featuring Evan’s old team playing against a team of Edmonton police officers. The game raised around $30,000 in its first year and has been a steady annual fundraiser ever since. The Society uses the money to fund anti-bullying programs in Edmonton schools. They include Olweus, a popular U.S. program that helps students identify and eliminate bullying. So far EGMS has helped about more than a dozen schools pay for Olweus and The Leader in Me, another program that focuses on developing self-confidence among students.
The Society recently heard from a group of students from one school that has benefited from the anti-violence programs. “Their unbelievable understanding of bullying concepts was amazing,” said Ms. Neilsen, who credits the spirit of Evan for the Society’s success. “Our community and certainly our group is fully aware that we are here today because of him. We’ve made a really strong impact on people.”