Ridiculous, weird, unique and… a pizza floatie.
Those words all aptly describe Danielle McTaggart’s fundraiser to help send girls to school in Sierra Leone.
Next week, McTaggart will be spending 12 straight hours on the gentle waves of Cultus Lake atop a flotation device in the shape of a giant slice of pizza.
McTaggart recently moved to Cultus Lake with her husband Drew McTaggart. Their band, Dear Rouge, is a Juno award-winning electronic rock group formed in Vancouver in 2012 by the two of them.
Proceeds from her Aug. 8 fundraiser, Take A Slice Out Of Life, will be donated to Vancouver-based charity Nations Cry, a humanitarian organization that is educating youth in Sierra Leone. One hundred per cent of the money raised goes to the cause.
She got the inspiration to help empower women from a recent G7 event, Women Deliver. She recalls one woman who spoke saying a big part of the problem is the lack of education for women in other parts of the world.
“I thought about that. The best thing we can do for each other is to empower each other, and to have knowledge and know what we deserve.”
That’s when she decided to raise money to help educate young girls in West Africa. She’s hoping to raise $50,000 which would send 125 girls to Pathway Academy Junior Secondary School, an institution built by Nations Cry in 2015.
One generous donor will be matching all donations that come in from McTaggart’s event.
Fifty per cent of the kids who go to the school are orphans, 75 per cent are girls, plus they aim to hire half female teachers.
“It was exactly what I was looking for. The need is actually real,” she says.
|“If I actually stay on it for 12 hours, I’m going to feel so weird when I stand on land,” says Danielle McTaggart. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)|
Having found her charity of choice, now she had to figure out what to do to raise money. She didn’t want to organize a walk-a-thon — that’s too “normal” for this woman.
“One person said it can’t be done… several wonder why it should be done… everyone wonders how the bathroom situation is going to play out,” reads the press release.
It was her friend Sarah Shandl who suggested she do something really random. Why not float on a lake atop a giant inflatable wedge of pizza?
“That was literally the first idea she had,” says McTaggart laughing.
She thought Shandl’s idea was brilliant.
“I was like ‘this is so weird and, yes, I actually think it’s fun.’ So I took her idea and I made it my own and expanded it.”
Take A Slice Out Of Life will be a variety show fundraiser. As McTaggart floats around on her pizza slice, there will be entertainment on the dock.
Special guests include acoustic performances, a gymnast, a magician and a comedian, plus there will be water aerobics, water balloon games, sing-a-longs, and boat tours with McTaggart who will be pulled behind her uncle’s boat on her floatie.
“It’s really about being just ridiculous,” she says.
She won’t be venturing out into open waters though. McTaggart will be in the roped-off swimming area away from any boat traffic.
Surely she has to be a water person in order to be taking on this 12-hour float.
“Not really. I grew up in Alberta,” she says. “I’m going to get some Gravol.”
She’s been seasick before and thinks it’ll happen again on Aug. 8.
“That’s what makes it fun. It’s actually going to be hard but it’s also going to be fun. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” she adds. “If I actually stay on it for 12 hours, I’m going to feel so weird when I stand on land.”
She has a lot of it planned out: a wet suit or rain jacket if the weather will be cool or rainy, a small floatie beside her for supplies like sunblock and an umbrella, and yoga for when she needs to be a bit more Zen.
But there is one thing she hasn’t quite nailed down yet.
“I gotta figure out my bathroom situation. I’m pretty sure that if I go early morning, if I get up earlier than normal, then I should be all right,” she says.
Take A Slice Out Of Life runs Thursday, Aug. 8 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find Danielle McTaggart near one of the docks along the trail leading to Main Beach at Cultus Lake. Or, you can watch the whole thing as it’s live-streamed.
To help McTaggart reach her goal of raising $50,000 for Nations Cry, you can donate and find more info online at takeasliceoutoflife.com. Donations of $400 or more will get you a free T-shirt.