Shuffling for a cause
Just two weeks into her new job at Concordia in 2000, Danielle Tessier, attendee 88, participated in her first-ever Concordia Shuffle. The university’s 6.5-kilometre walkathon from the Sir George Williams Campus to the Loyola Campus is an annual tradition to raise funds for student scholarships and bursaries.
Nearly 18 years into her career, Tessier admits she’s hooked. “I started giving and it was so rewarding,” she says. “We’re part of a community and we have to help each other out.”
A critical moment for her came in her second year raising funds for the Shuffle. Tessier asked a member of the Board of Governors if she would like to donate. Not only did that person agree — she wrote a cheque for $500.
“I nearly fell over. I did not expect her to sponsor me for such a large amount,” says Tessier. “It really motivated me to make more of an effort to ask people. The worst thing someone can say is ‘no.’ Once I realized I could ask my connections to support our students, I was so happy to do it.”
Record-setting Shuffle fundraiser
Today, as Concordia’s associate secretary-general, Tessier manages the governance bodies of the university, which include Concordia’s Board of Governors and Senate.
She’s also the most successful Shuffle fundraiser through the years. Tessier set a record in 2017 — collecting $14,500 for Concordia students. She also co-chaired the Shuffle organizing committee in 2016 and 2017.
Tessier acknowledges that the cost of living for students today is much higher than it was when she was growing up. That’s one reason she also gives to Concordia’s Student Emergency and Food Fund — a program that provides grocery gift cards to students in immediate financial need. Tessier recalls an international student saying at a Senate meeting that he depended on the fund, which aided him immensely during his studies away from home.
“When you hear testimonies like that, how can you not give?” Tessier asks. “Everyone deserves the same chances in life. Even if it is a small amount, you’re contributing to the betterment of society well into the future. I am quite fortunate to work in such a rich and stimulating environment,” she says. “Universities offer diversity and promote ideas and debate. That is what helps society evolve.”
The primary reason she gives is to help others, yet Tessier admits she derives happiness from doing so. “There’s no scientific reason behind it. It just feels good.”
In 2017 the Shuffle raised $110,000. Since 1990, Shufflers have raised nearly $1.4 million.