5 British Columbians receive coveted 2024 Courage To Come Back Award

$1.72 million was raised at the 2024 Courage To Come Back Awards presented by Wheaton Precious Metals on May 23rd.

Over 1,500 guests gathered to celebrate the extraordinary stories of triumph over adversity of the five inspiring awards recipients.

Funds raised will go to Coast Mental Health Foundation to support programs for those living with mental illness. The event was co-chaired by Lorne R. Segal, O.B.C., D.Litt. (Hon.), LLD. (Hon.), President of Kingswood Properties Ltd., and Eric Carlson, Core-founder and CEO Anthem Properties.

The five recipients each shared their stories of how they have ‘come back to give back’ in their communities and were honoured for their incredible journeys.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Monica Gärtner – Medical
  • Kevin Parker – Addiction
  • Leo Sammarelli – Physical Rehabilitation
  • Baylie McKnight – Mental Health
  • Samantha Sewell – Youth

Every donation to Coast Mental Health Foundation helps to provide people living with mental illness with a meaningful place in our community.  A place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work.  As a leader in community-based care, Coast Mental Health is a critical link between hospital services and our communities, and a vital part of the continuum of care.

“25 years ago, people simply weren’t talking about mental health, but events like this have created a lot of awareness. Hosting the Courage To Come Back Awards for the past 19 years is both an honour and a privilege. It’s my sincere hope that the recipient’s stories will inspire each of us to contribute to a more understanding and accepting world, free from stigmas and prejudices. Thank you to every person that made a generous gift this evening, it truly makes a difference.”

Lorne Segal, O.B.C., D.Litt.(Hon.), LLD. (Hon.), President, Kingswood Properties Ltd, Event Co-Chair, Coast Mental Health – Courage To Come Back Awards

“Coast Mental Health, through innovation, housing, support, education, and commitment, is an essential part of the solution. The Courage To Come Back Awards event gives all of us the opportunity to learn, to be inspired, and, most importantly, to become an essential part of the solution. We are so grateful to every person that made a gift and in doing so, is helping to change lives.”

Eric Carlson, Core-founder and CEO Anthem Properties, Event Co-Chair, Coast Mental Health – Courage To Come Back Awards

2024 Courage To Come Back Recipients 

Monica Gärtner – Medical

“I’m not a superhero, I’m just a woman with a disability that has a great deal of perseverance and a desire to help my community live with dignity.”

Born with a rare bone disease, she has endured over 500 broken bones and the resulting trauma and rehabilitation. Despite discrimination, accidents and collapsed lungs, she persevered, completing her studies and gaining employment. She champions equality and support for people with disabilities through her writing, speaking and her own non-profit.

Kevin Parker  – Addiction

“I never imagined I would have achieved some of the things that I’ve been able to do knowing years ago I was on the brink of death numerous times.”

His journey from poverty, addiction, violence, and homelessness is a testament to his resilience. Today he is happily married with four children and serves as a beacon of hope to others. He advocates for recovery, diversity, and harm reduction, and is working to make positive long lasting transformative change in community for folks with a supportive and hopeful compassionate and loving lens.

Leo Sammarelli – Physical Rehabilitation

“My message is very clear: No matter how difficult and hopeless your situation may be, you and only you have the power to change it.”

Once a rising boxing star, his life was altered forever when he was shot at 22, leaving him paralyzed. Despite the challenges, he found purpose through adaptive sports, winning medal after medal and even returning to boxing. He generously shares his story to inspire others.


Baylie McKnight – Mental Health

“I have come a long way, and I believe I had the courage to come back not only for myself but also as a wounded healer to make a difference in the community and the world.”

By the time she was 18, she had faced many challenges including physical and sexual abuse, and addiction. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, she found services lacking, and decided to tackle the gap herself. She founded her own charity and has helped thousands dealing


Samantha Sewell – Youth

“I realized that my disability and the bullying were nothing to be ashamed of and that others were going through very similar things.”

Born with a speech disorder, and bullied and tormented at school, she has defied the odds to become a voice for anti-bullying and inclusion. A model, beauty-pageant winner, and early childhood education provider, she uses her platform to spread hope.

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Your donation to Coast Mental Health Foundation provides essential housing, support, and employment services for people with mental illness so they can find their meaningful place in our community – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work.



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