The 2nd annual ‘Fernie Dragathon’ took place last week to raise money for mental health and break stigma around suicide.
The Dragathon brought in over $10,000 from various streams, including a GoFundMe page, event ticket sales, fundraising events in town, business donations, and cash, according to drag queen Isabella GiaV, who was at the Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) on Friday (March 11) dressed in a ball gown with a group of about 10 drag queens and kings.
The money raised is going to the Elk Valley Suicide Task Force (EVSTF) for support services to help ensure that “people don’t fall through the gaps,” she said.
The group of drag stars was gathered Friday for the ‘Mighty Moose Dragathon!’, which the EVSTF website describes as a “ski fundraiser like no other.” The “must-see drag extravaganza” featured a catwalk challenge, Mighty Moose skiing, a talent show, and an after party at the Griz Bar.
“We’re up here and we’re skiing, and we’re having fun, and it’s ridiculous. We’re shining a rhinestone spotlight on mental health,” GiaV said, adding that suicide is not something to be swept under the rug, but talked about.
GiaV said mental health is something that’s very important to her and many people in Fernie.
“So many people in this town are grieving, and that’s important to acknowledge, that people are grieving, people are struggling with losing someone in their life. And people are also struggling with their own personal struggles as well,” she said.
The week’s events ran from Monday (March 7) to Friday. It began with an ‘Art Cleansing Session’ at the Arts Station, and saw several other activities take place through the week, including: ‘Drag Bingo with the Rainbow Club’ at Fernie Secondary School, ‘Mental Health Themed Trivia’ at The Fernie Hotel, ‘Drag Storytime’ at the Fernie Heritage Library, a ‘Drag Walk’ through downtown Fernie, and ‘Cocktails & Pussy Willows’ at the Fernie Distillery.
“So many people have had conversations about suicide, about mental health, and about the struggles that we all have,” GiaV said.
“People are excited about this ridiculous event… and we’re excited to just be out here in town, and be supported. Because it’s an incredible feeling to be supported by a town.”
“Maybe you’re not a drag queen, maybe you don’t want to put pounds of makeup on your face. But there’s something that you’re passionate about.
“Whatever that passion is, find it. And the town, this town, Fernie, and this valley, will support you. Because this town supports people.”
GiaV said that it can be hard to love and respect yourself. Throughout the week, she said she asked people to repeat after her: “I am loved, I am beautiful, I am not defined by my fears and anxieties. All things can pass, and it’s OK not to be OK.”
In 2021, the Mighty Moose Dragathon was a closed event due to the pandemic, and raised $10,000 for the EVSTF. The 2022 GoFundMe page will be active for about a week following the March 11 event.
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