It’s ironic that Murray Forbes likes the courtyard at UBC Okanagan as much as he does. Located in the centre of campus, it is a meeting point, a greenspace and a place to grab a snack and relax.
It’s also the place where Forbes almost died.
In February 2022, the then 77-year-old engineering student collapsed while walking to class. Normally, he would walk down a quiet and empty hallway, but somehow—he has no recollection of the day—he arrived at the busy courtyard. He was found unconscious and barely breathing.
Luckily, the courtyard is the heart of the Okanagan campus and students were rushing to classes or standing in line at the coffee shop. Help arrived almost immediately and one of those who rushed to the scene was Marissa Burfield, a student volunteer with UBCO’s Emergency First Responder Team (EFRT). She called for help, started CPR and requested someone find an automated external defibrillator.
Thanks to her quick actions, and the help of other EFRT volunteers, Forbes was revived and rushed to hospital. He has fully recovered.
“I feel so very fortunate,” says Forbes, noting he walks by that very spot in the courtyard almost every day. He’s back at school, taking third and fourth-year Engineering courses. “I know I would not be here today, doing what I’m doing, if UBCO did not have students who are skilled emergency volunteers. They saved my life.”
EFRT is a volunteer organization that gives first aid training to UBCO students and is one of several student groups that has been identified as a unique campaign during UBC’s Giving Day. Burfield says the club could use a financial boost and team members are excited to be first-time participants of Giving Day.
“We have goals and are committed to promoting campus health, safety and knowledge” she says. “We also organize CPR courses for the community and higher training for our responders. It’s a challenge to do that without community support.”
Giving Day donations to the EFRT will help provide training equipment and weather-appropriate, on-duty uniforms.
“This group of volunteers deserves all the recognition and support it can get,” adds Forbes. “I know my situation was an extreme one—much different than the usual first aid call—but having students trained to that ability on campus is amazing.”
Giving Day is an online 24-hour fundraising campaign to support various UBC initiatives, teams, clubs and students. Taking place on both campuses, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community are encouraged to donate to a favourite cause. As funds accumulate, challenges can be unlocked which will provide additional funds as the day continues.
Other UBCO causes involved include the FORWARD for Students Affordability Initiative—which provides student awards—the Perseverance Bursary—which helps remove financial barriers for students with a disability or medical condition—the Multi-Faith Space—which more than 300 students use for multi-faith services weekly, and the UBCO Motorsports club which will race their next-generation electric racecar at an international competition in May.
Giving Day is also raising money for the men’s rugby and women’s softball clubs along with the varsity Heat soccer, volleyball and basketball teams.
The beauty of Giving Day, explains UBC Okanagan Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Lesley Cormack, is that people can pick a favourite cause and contribute directly to that fund. And once a fundraising total is met, or a number of donations hit a certain point, challenges can be unlocked, which can sometimes double the amount of money raised.
“We have this wonderful menu of organizations that would appreciate support. Giving Day lets people specifically choose a cause that might be close to their hearts or simply intrigues them,” says Dr. Cormack. “It’s also a really fun day. People can watch donations climb, financial challenges can be unlocked and they can amplify their gift to make sure those extra challenge funds do get released.”
Along with specific challenges, there are some time-based ones—providing incentives to donate either in the morning or afternoon, or to a specific fund at a certain time of day.
Giving Day takes place April 5 and activities include games, interactive exhibits, food and drinks outside UBCO’s University Centre from 11 am to 1 pm.
People can find Okanagan-specific campaigns, challenges, ways to contribute and more information at: givingday.ubc.ca/26366/givingday2023