In 2003, along with a dedicated group of volunteer ‘Foggers’, Darrin introduced the Festival of Giving to Chatham-Kent in order to support the various food banks across Chatham-Kent. Darrin chaired the event for the first 10 years before initiating the transfer of this responsibility to the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent Foundation, with the Children’s Treatment Centre now the main beneficiary of the event. With the generous support of a number of corporations, businesses and individuals, the Festival is executed each year by an army of over 150 volunteers and continues today as the one of the most successful one day fundraising events in Canada. To date, the ‘Festival’ has raised over $2 700 000 for local charities and annually attracts a sell out crowd of over 1000 people.
The Festival of Giving celebrated its 10th anniversary in true Hollywood fashion Saturday and raised $365,000.
In 2016, Darrin introduced Positivity Day in CK to Chatham-Kent to coincide with World Positivity Day. The objective of the day was to engage the community in collectively working towards creating a more positive culture in C-K. In 2017, the one day event was expanded to include ‘The 12 Days of Positivity’. Themed days were organized that celebrated the contributions of various groups and organizations and highlighting the many positive things that take place every day in Chatham-Kent. In 2017, hundreds of businesses and organizations across Chatham-Kent invited the ‘Positivity’ team to visit with them. A measure of the success of this initiative was the fact that every elementary school in Chatham-Kent held an assembly in early September to meet the Positivity team and to greet Captain Positive and Opti Woman. The Stay Positive messages delivered to the students plays an important role in supporting the Safe Schools curriculum in our schools designed to encourage and reinforce socially responsible and respectful behaviour among students.Read more
Children’s Concert Series
Through his work on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation, Darrin saw an opportunity to provide funding for much needed equipment as well as raise awareness in the community of the services provided by the Centre. Between 2011 to 2014, Darrin funded and promoted nine concerts at the Capital Theatre dubbed ‘The Children’s Concert Series’. In addition to bringing a variety of acts to Chatham-Kent, some of the children receiving services at the Centre were given an opportunity to perform on stage. Check out the You Tube video below showing nine children’s black light performance of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ during intermission at the ‘Queen Tribute Concert’ in September 2013. This was the highlight of the series for Darrin, “Watching the kids perform and the looks on their faces when they looked out at 1,000 people cheering for them was heart-warming. It doesn’t get much better than that!”Watch video
Chatham-Kent could use a few more Darrin Canniffs. Granted, we are blessed with an incredible volunteer base and a very giving community, but people such as Canniff are invaluable in the non-profit world.
The Amazing Race Chatham Kent was launched in 2006 while Darrin was serving as co-chair of the annual United Way fundraising campaign along with his wife Christine. Darrin seized the opportunity to initiate something new and unique that would bring attention to the campaign, engage teams from across Chatham-Kent in a fun event that would take them to every corner of our community and, at the same time, raise significant funds for the campaign. The Amazing Race Chatham-Kent raised more than $70,000 and was part of the United Way annual campaign for 9 years. The 2006 United Way Campaign chaired by Christine and Darrin raised a record $2.4 million.Watch video
Seventeen years ago, the ‘Decathlon’ was born in Darrin’s backyard as an end-of-summer celebration and get together that he and Christine hosted each year for his neighbors and friends. Due to its success, it became obvious that a larger venue was needed. Terry Jenkins at TJ Stables agreed to host the event and it blossomed from there. Eleven years ago, a Halloween themed event was introduced at the suggestion Don and Daylene Turner who spearheaded the event along with Darrin. Through their efforts, in collaboration with TJ Stables and a posse of volunteers, ‘Hallowbash’ raised over $100 000, with the majority of the funds going to support the Acceptional Riders’ Program at TJ Stables, a program that provides a number of benefits for individuals with physical and developmental challenges by teaching them horsemanship and riding skills.
For the past four years, the Chatham couple, along with Darrin Canniff – Mr. Party Organizer – and a host of dedicated volunteers, have staged the popular Hallow Bash costume party that attracts approximately 400 people.
Terry Jenkins and her husband, John, who run the program that provides children with varying disabilities an opportunity to ride horses, said the event raised one-third of the budget in a single night
The event raised $35,000 for Acceptional Riders, which benefits kids with a wide range of special needs, from ADHD and behavioural issues to cerebral palsy and autism. Last year’s event raised just over $20,000
Helping Others Out
The success of any campaign in a community depends on the willingness of people to embrace a particular cause and get involved as a volunteer, participant or both. Darrin does not limit his involvement to visioning and organizing events – he also has a long history of supporting the fundraising efforts of other causes such as VON, Canadian Cancer Society, Epilepsy Support Centre and Heart and Stroke and in Chatham-Kent and neighboring communities. A good example was Darrin’s willingness to help out the Canadian Cancer Society by having his head shaved in 2012 as one of the ‘three amigos’ from Union Gas. His son Tyler, who was on hand to witness the event, decided to get into the act and have his head shaved also. Tyler is well on his way to carrying on his family’s legacy of giving back to their community.
Darrin has been involved in sports in the community most of his life as a participant and as a coach.
His involvement as a parent has included coaching travel and house league soccer, Ballhawks volleyball and serving as an assistant coach with the Chatham Cougars house league football. Darrin was one of the founders of the Timbits Volleyball Academy which promoted volleyball for kids from grades of 2 to 6.