Local residents raise $16,000 for Lyme disease research

December 9, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski 

A local group of volunteers saw huge success with their fundraising effort last month, generating over $16,000 for Lyme disease research. 

Janis Peel organized an outdoor Christmas urn/container sale through the month of November, in support of the G. Magnotta Foundation, which runs a research lab for Lyme disease at Guelph University, in memory of Gabe Magnotta who passed away from the disease in 2009. 

While Peel initially hoped to raise $5,000 for the foundation, she was astounded by the level of support she saw from the community, more than tripling her original goal, with $16,195 raised.

“It just snowballed in such a wonderful way,” she enthused. “The money that flooded in for the research blew me away, we still can’t believe it.”

Peel lost her son Michael to Lyme disease in 2018 and last January, she gathered with a few friends to explore the idea of making Christmas urns to fundraise for research on the disease.

Peel and her husband Bob, along with their three children and some friends, planted thousands of evergreens on their property about 25 years ago and since then, the trees have matured.

With the help of over 40 volunteers in total, operating under the name “Green Team”, the trees were pruned, pots were gathered, soil was loaded, and over 100 Christmas urns were handcrafted at Peel’s East Garafraxa home, on Nov. 5 and 6. 

Some of the volunteers even made handcrafted ornaments to sell and items were raffled off.

“We all felt like it was such a community effort, but it was benefiting everybody,” said Peel.

She noted that her friends who helped out with the fundraiser, thoroughly enjoyed donating their time. 

“It was almost like being in a feel-good Hallmark movie or something. It was really weird, and people are still thanking me, saying ‘Thank you for calling on me to help out’,” Peel said.

In addition to raising money for Lyme disease research, the Christmas urn sale helped to spread awareness of Lyme disease for those who volunteered and purchased items.

Peel said spreading awareness was one of her main motivations for organizing the fundraiser, so she asked the people who volunteered to “push it forward” in their own lives.  

“Push it forward because the more people that know about this [disease], the better off the world is,” she said.

The number of people being diagnosed with Lyme disease has skyrocketed over the last 10 years in Canada. There was just 144 cases being reported in 2009 and 142 in 2010, but case numbers have steadily climbed all the way up to 2,636 in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. 

Peel and others believe these stats are under-reported for a variety of reasons.

“Everybody knows somebody with Lyme disease right now or so many people do,” said Peel, noting the prevalence of the disease. “You can’t ignore it. You can’t just say it’s not going to happen to me. You just have to be aware.”

“The other thing is there is a serious research lab in Guelph, and the only way we’re going to move forward is through research,” she added. 

To prevent Lyme disease, ensure you’re protected from getting tagged by a tick while outdoors. This can be achieved by covering up with shoes, long pants tucked into socks, a long sleeve shirt, hat and gloves. 

Using insect repellant with a 20 per cent or higher concentration of DEET can help repel ticks as well. You can also buy Permethrin to spray on your clothes when outdoors. The spray lasts for about six weeks and is DEET-free. Alternatively, you can buy Permethrin-treated clothing. 

Always be sure to check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin so you will have to be careful when searching as they’re easy to miss.

Even when being incredibly vigilant of ticks, there’s always a chance that one might slip through the cracks, so supporting research initiatives like the lab in Guelph run by the G. Magnotta Foundation, is a great way to support the fight against Lyme disease. 

To donate to the foundation, visit: and to learn more about ticks and Lyme disease, visit:

“Remember the Magnotta Foundation when making your charitable contributions this year,” said Peel. 

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