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ROCKY CAMPANA

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Rocky was a shining star, an achiever and proud to be gay. He had everything in life to live for, including a high profile new job and a family he adored and who supported him endlessly with great pride. It is now apparent that Rocky suffered from depression. We understand that if this scenario is possible in our family it is a risk for any family with an LGBTQ youth. Rocky made a difference in life and as a family we are determined his message continues to be delivered and makes a difference in others’ lives.
-Nancy Campana.

About Rocky and what his life stood for.

Rocky was only in our presence for 23 years. However, anyone who knew or even had a short encounter with him understood that there was something very special about him. Looking back on Rocky’s life, it is instantly apparent that he packed many accomplishments and a great deal of giving through his various activities and involvements in a very short period of time.

Rocky was a graduate of the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business Graduate Program. Rocky had four Case Studies published by the Richard Ivey School of Business, which continue to be used in universities throughout the United States and Canada. During his time at Western, he maintained an Honours average while working 30 to 40 hours a week and volunteering almost daily. Rocky was involved with the Pride Library, initiated the Street Meat Program to raise funds for The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, organized movie premiere bus trips for the debut of hot movies for resident students, volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Society, was a Resident Assistant and Soccer League House League Convenor . He also ran yearly in Toronto’s Pride and Remembrance Run, raising a significant amount of money for the signature charity each year. At the 2013 Toronto Pride and Remembrance Run, Rocky Campana’s family accepted The Bill Graham Award presented to Rocky posthumously by Premier Kathleen Wynn. The Bill Graham Award was established in 2008 by the Pride and Remembrance Association to recognize service to the LGBT community through demonstrated volunteerism and/or community leadership.

What people remember most about Rocky was his sheer determination to be the best at whatever he attempted and his ability to make everyone he met feel special. People also remember his vocal determination to create change to help youth in the LGBT community during the challenging process of coming out. Rocky was hoping to help bring a National Suicide Hotline program for LGBT Youth to Canada, a void he felt was lacking nationally.

Rocky had just begun his dream job at Proctor and Gamble weeks before his passing. Part of his duties included community service hours. Rocky’s ambition was to go into high schools and to talk to students about accepting others for who they are, regardless of their sexuality, popularity, race, religion, and income level. Rocky was passionate about taking care of those who were treated unjustly in life. He was ecstatic when the Ontario government passed the bill to mandate GSAs in high schools. It is fitting that the Run for Rocky in Windsor will help fund educational programs and speakers in partnership with GSAs in the local school systems. This program is the first of its kind in Canada and is now being looked at as a pilot project that will be taken across Canada to help fund GSAs in all high schools nationally.

Since the inception of the Run for Rocky Legacy Project over $300,000 has been raised with overwhelming corporate and community support. This event was the very first of its kind in Ontario helping to raise money to support the newly initiated GSAs in the school system. Rocky’s parents Nancy & Rob understood that without funding, GSA programming would be unable to reach its full potential, and saw a need to bring a significant change in this area. The funds brought in through fundraising efforts yearly are used to help expand support of educational programming for both parents, educators, workplaces and our local youth at the school level ensuring that Gay Straight Alliances start at home and are reinforced in a supportive and accepting school & workplace environments. The Run for Rocky Legacy Project funding model includes education programs for parents, youth and educators, GSA leadership mentoring programs, youth mental health awareness programs, youth suicide prevention programming for all students and scholarship opportunities for those involved in their GSA’s.

The inaugural Run for Rocky also coincided with an organ donation change petition brought forth to the House of Commons in May of 2014 with a request for policy changes by Health Canada in their Blood and Organ Donation policies. The discrepancies in Canada’s blood and organ donation system became apparent when the Campana family were unable to donate Rocky’s organs at the time of his death. Now that the petition has been tabled further work with government, organ donation foundations and the medical community is taking place to ensure change in policy is made in the future. Nancy Campana was asked in the Spring of 2019 to sit on the Canadian Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative Committee. A group of Doctors, Researchers, Organ Donation Organization directors and Patient Advocates from across Canada who have been appointed to help make sweeping changes across the country in organ donation procedures, policies and efficiencies.