By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Inspired by family tragedy, Angela Pilon is raising awareness and funds for mental health – and she’s not alone.
Pilon’s mother, Monique Rozon, recently passed away after struggling with mental health issues.
With a lot of help from her friends at A Lil’ Pole Fitness and Om Satya Yoga, 32-year-old Pilon was able to raise $1,200 for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
The two local businesses turned their one-year anniversary party on Friday into a tribute for Rozon – their former building owner, patron, and dear friend.
“I never thought at a young age that I’d be burying my mom,” said Pilon. “The outpour of support from community members and businesses has really helped us through this difficult situation.”
For Sandy Banga, owner of Om Satya Yoga, the event was a chance to take mental health awareness into her own hands.
“Monique Rozon was not just the owner of this studio, but a great friend,” said Banga. “I saw her going down. I saw what depression did to her and she went…without giving us any hints. I wanted the community to be aware of how much mental health can affect people.”
Nancy Connah attended the event to support a fellow co-worker. She applauded the organizers for finding such an innovative and energetic way to promote good mental health.
A Lil’ Pole Fitness and Om Satya Yoga’s first business anniversary (in memory of Rozon) featured contests, strength challenges, pole fitness and yoga demonstrations, a silent auction, and Indian head massages.
“I learned a lot about mental health awareness thanks to the literature they had available,” said Connah. “I know some friends who need help and now I have the resources.”
That was the silver lining Pilon was hoping for.
“We’re trying to build awareness and make something positive out of a dark situation,” she said. “In her honour, we will promote mental health in hopes we can help at least one person.”
Pilon encourages anyone wrestling with mental health issues to reach out to family members and accept help from others.
Seeing the shared studio space at 101 Ninth Street packed with 200 people was a bittersweet victory for Shannon Champagne, owner of A Lil’ Pole Fitness. She thanked the crowd, emcee Brock Frost, and local businesses for all their support.
“She (Monique) would’ve loved this,” said Champagne. “She would’ve been proud.”
Visit www.cmha.ca for information on mental health awareness.