Cathy Ferguson King, the Cowichan Bay dynamo widely known for her efforts on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy, the firefighters’ charity, was honoured this month by a Mr Mikes SteakhouseCasual Deeds Well Done award.
King was selected as one of 10 winners across Western Canada to receive $1,000 to donate to the charity of her choice, plus a $100 Mr Mikes gift card.
Not surprisingly, she has chosen to give her donation to Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
King’s nominator, Lauren McKay, was enthusiastic in describing her, saying: “Cathy is one of the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
“In the past four years that I have worked with her I’ve seen her give her time, passion, and determination to several special causes. She is one of those people whose heart is bigger than she is. I am nominating Cathy because she is always volunteering her time and commitment to our community,” McKay said.
The nomination included three recent examples.
“Every year in September Cathy gets involved in the Muscular Dystrophy Walk here on Vancouver Island. But, she doesn’t just fundraise and walk the walk, she walks in full firefighter gear with an air tank, mask and fully equipped. She does that so she can feel what people with MD feel, the struggle for every breath. She fundraises any way she can, silent auctions at work, selling pizzas from Moo’s Pizza (another amazing community supporter) and bottle drives. This year she made it into the top 10 fundraisers in Canada raising over $6,200 for MD.
“Also, in September she was a huge supporter of Cops for Cancers Tour de Rock. She single handedly filled three huge tables with family and friends at their Spaghetti Dinner at Shawnigan Lake school, where her very own son volunteered as a bus boy. Her heart is so big.”
In October, McKay said, King took up two challenges for the Warmland House shelter, donating 100 towels in 100 hours and 100 blankets in 100 hours.
In addition to the kind of activities noted in McKay’s nomination, King also brings her effervescent personality to many local events in her community. She was last seen by many folks on Jan. 1 enjoying her own traditional birthday treat: the New Years Day Polar Bear plunge at Hecate Park.
To clinch the win, her nominator showed King and her daughter walking the MD Walk in full firefighter gear.
“I fear that words will not do justice to the amazing person that Cathy is,” McKay said.
King herself was surprised when she heard about the prize she’d earned.
Asked how long she’s been supporting fundraisers for Muscular Dystrophy, King said, “pretty much always”.
She started doing it in full gear three years ago.
“The first year was sort of a dare by the two firefighters to me, the non-firefighter, to see if I could do it. I found it was really fun. And now we’ve just kept it as a unique part of the walk, just because it is something different,” she said.
That challenge has attracted copycats.
“Every year we get non-firefighters as well as firefighters who want to do it. You have to sometimes add a twist to make it interesting because there are so many walks out there for so many great causes. You have to find something that makes yours stand out. They got onto this and I thought: This is awesome.”
She was surprised when McKay, a coworker, nominated her.
“That was super cute. A couple of months ago she said: ‘There’s a contest and I put your name in it. I hope that’s okay.’ I hardly even remembered it. But it was so super thoughtful of her to take the time to enter me. At that time, I had no idea what she had written and so then when the email came through that I had won all I could say was: ‘Oh, my gosh!’ I didn’t even realize then what I had won.”
That led to a bit of back-and-forth correspondence.
“Then they sent me what she had written and I started to cry at my desk. It was super cool. In such a busy world and such busy times that she would actually sit down and think it out so carefully. She really captured everything that I do. That’s better than any prize. And then to win the $1,000 for the charity of my choice. I was just: ‘Woo hoo!’”
King doesn’t think about herself when she’s trying to help the community or a charity. The win staggered her.
“You’re only as good as the people that support you and I don’t do any of this for recognition. I thought it was just a Duncan contest, too. I didn’t realize the magnitude of it, either,” she said.
King took McKay out to lunch last week to celebrate.
“What I thought was really neat was that she was excited that I had won. But I told her: ‘No, this was all about you. You took the time and put thoughts on paper.’”
King’s Island Savings co-workers were in on the fun, too.
“They actually printed out what she said and put it up on the wall at work. It was neat. I cried, I have such a soft heart. Anything like that really gets to me. It’s a family thing for us. And she got that, too,” King said.