“When Mary-Jo was fundraising for the London Marathon, we were thrilled she included our son Kolbi, who at the time was battling a brain tumour, in her fundraising efforts. She even visited and took care of him at the hospital when we were required to be offsite. We’re even more thrilled today our little monkey is cancer free.”
Warning: Mary-Jo is one of those people who will encourage you to sign a petition, read an important article, or contribute to helping find solutions to societal areas in need of a bit of TLC.
To that end, over the last decade she has been committed to donating a percentage of every project’s billings to worthy endeavours, especially as it pertains to helping children living in poverty and/or fighting critical illness.
Since 2002, she has spearheaded initiatives that have garnered over $100,000 in contributions to a variety of local, national, and global causes. This includes her 2006 “Pale is the new tanned” awareness swim from Alcatraz Prison to the shores of the San Francisco Bay which generated over $8,000 for the Canadian Melanoma Society and her 2014 running of the London Marathon which generated $17,000 for both Children with Cancer (UK) and Kolbi’s Cause. She is the founder of Will’s Harem, the all-women running group who ran the Halifax Marathon events in support of the William Dennis Chair in Pediatric Epilepsy Research. She is the past host of the annual Wine & Fleas collection drive, which contributed thousands of pounds of supplies for animal rescue organizations North America-wide, and she is founder of TheFleasKnees tees, a line of tees dedicated to celebrating responsible pet guardianship. She is the founder of Cupcake Christmas, which sees women in communications come together to hand out cupcakes to residents on Vancouver’s downtown eastside. And she is founder of The Bag Brigade, an initiative which ensures gently used purses stocked with supplies and essentials are handed out to women in need in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhoods and women’s shelters.
In 2015, Mary-Jo was thrilled to announce the launch of The Mary-Jo Dionne Productions Fund. Working in tandem with the good people of Vancity Community Foundation, Mary-Jo has launched The Millipede Project which is committed to getting 500 Vancouver-area kids-in-need a new pair of back-to-school shoes.
In 2017, Mary-Jo was named a Vancouver “Difference Maker” by The Georgia Straight newspaper for her philanthropic contributions.
In 2018, Mary-Jo was named a Dress for Success ambassador.
In 2018, she and her husband, well-respected plant-based endurance athlete Chad Bentley, are embarking on a campaign to raise funds and awareness for five local initiatives — when Chad attempts to tackle Epic5, 5 Ironman-distance races in 5 days on 5 Hawaiian islands. Recipients of their awareness campaign will be: Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, The Millipede Project, the CNIB, Minerva’s Indigenous Roots leadership program for Aboriginal Girls, and Terry Fox’s PROFYL program which aims to improve health outcomes for children with cancer.
All told, when you work with Mary-Jo, you can be assured that — above and beyond the scope of the project — you are contributing to something meaningful.