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Evan: CAN participant & Top Individual Fundraiser

The 2021 CAN Virtual Challenge, presented by Vancouver International Airport (YVR), started with a lofty goal. Raise $100,000 for CAN.

We launched registration in April and saw over 110 individuals accept the challenge. Each fundraiser was tasked with completing and posting up to six daily challenges, while asking friends and family to donate.

From May 31 to June 4, they posted themselves playing hockey, stacking LEGO, flying paper airplanes – and yes, attempting something referred to only as “cookie face”.

Thanks to their creativity, commitment and passion for the cause, our fundraisers exceeded our goal, bringing in over $102,000!

Within that virtual community of supporters was Evan Bissoondatt.

At 16 years old, Evan joined the challenge with an important and compelling reason to support the cause.

In appreciation of his fundraising efforts, Evan won signed Pettersson and Boeser jerseys!

It was only two years ago that Evan was diagnosed with autism. In the short time since, he’s been inspired by the community he’s found at Canucks Autism Network (CAN).

His goal is to one day work in our programs so that he can return the support he’s received. But until then, he was motivated to give back another way.

Signing up for the CAN Virtual Challenge, Evan raised a remarkable $4,105.

That total earned him the honour of being named our Top Individual Fundraiser! Needless to say, Evan is a remarkable young man who we want the entire CAN community to meet.

We asked both Evan and his mom, Bernadette, a few questions about the community he’s found at CAN and his incredibly successful campaign.

We can’t thank you enough for such an amazing contribution, Evan! Can you tell us first how you first became part of the CAN community?

EVAN: I found out about CAN with the help of my mom. She researched programs where I can meet people who are on the spectrum like me and fit my personality. She is really good at finding programs I am interested in and helps me sign up for them on time.

BERNADETTE: Since Evan was diagnosed in 2019, we are still fairly new to the autism community. But we are blessed to have found CAN! The diversity of programs has truly helped us find a good fit for Evan in terms of his age group and interests. 

Our staff and volunteers love seeing you at each program! What are some of your favourites?

EVAN: I really enjoy CAN’s in-person programs, like Explore Volunteering and Park Clean Ups, mainly because of the socializing that takes place. I get to socialize and help the community at the same time.

I also enjoy the Virtual Movie Clubs – how we get to talk about the movies afterwards – and Virtual Fitness. Through these programs, I’ve been able to connect with participants and even make friendships.

BERNADETTE: One of the many remarkable examples of how helpful and amazing the programs are – Evan participated in Explore Employment, where he was given templates for creating a resume.

He used this to build his own resume and recently got accepted for his first part-time job this summer! I love how CAN programs like these help prepare teens for transitioning into adulthood, making them more familiar with what’s to come and ultimately less anxious.

Evan, you’ve clearly got a ton of initiative. But we can’t believe this was your first time doing any kind of fundraising! How did you do so well?

EVAN: I raised the money with the help of my parents and the generosity of family, friends and people who support me at school. I don’t have access to social media so my parents and I emailed my fundraising campaign to people we know.

What were your favourite challenges?

EVAN: My favorite challenges were building and creating, because I got to speed-build Lego. I also enjoyed playing badminton on Day 1 and running on the treadmill for the “Move” challenge.

Looks like you had a great time, Evan! Finally, what motivated you to put in all this work fundraising?

EVAN: Growing up, I thought I was just a normal person like the rest, but I do have social challenges at school. I struggle with friendships and recognizing social cues. Oftentimes, I don’t know who to classify as a true friend.

When I was diagnosed with Autism in Grade 8, I honestly was confused and didn’t know how to feel. I thought, “Is autism good or bad?”

I questioned myself about many things and what it meant to be autistic. I have later learned that this is something I am born with. I could have unusual traits that make me act or behave differently, but I am still just like any human being, my brain just functions differently than others.

Now that I think of it, God created me with a unique recipe and my own personality – but still a masterpiece He can be proud of!

Evan and his very proud mom, Bernadette

What motivated me to fundraise is the fact that CAN gives people like me the support they need while feeling connected. The coaches are incredible. They are doing such an amazing job with helping people on the spectrum.

I am interested in being a support worker for CAN one day, so I can help too.

BERNADETTE: CAN programs have done wonders – not just for our son but our entire family. As a parent, it is challenging to navigate through the different programs out there.

We are so proud of Evan for his willingness to share his story and use his voice to fundraise for CAN! This was his first time fundraising and he was the top fundraiser!

We can’t wait to see where Evan’s leadership and his desire to give back take him. Fundraisers like the CAN Virtual Challenge are critical in continuing our work to give opportunity and promote autism acceptance.

But building acceptance, understanding and support isn’t possible without individuals like Evan sharing their story. In this instance, Evan’s voice has raised an incredible amount of money for the cause while demonstrating just how much our amazing participants are capable of.

Thank you, Evan! And thank you to each of our CAN Virtual Challenge fundraisers, sponsors and partners.

See you at our next community fundraiser!

Presenting Sponsor: Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
Challenge Partners: Centaur Products, The DB Perks Group, hcma & TELUS
Friends of CAN:
Herbaland, Meridian Farm Market, Nintendo, Toys R Us Vancouver & Vessi

More CAN stories

Kayla: From awareness to understanding and acceptance
Growing up autistic, Kayla uses her lived experience to help participants at CAN.

Corey: Growing up autistic
“Autism was not well known or understood when I was a boy.”

Natanya: “Autism acceptance means I have a job I love”
After starting as a volunteer, this young woman on the spectrum shares her experience becoming a support worker at CAN.