Celebrating with purpose: Julie’s DIY Birthday Fundraiser honours her late parents

Julie's parents pose together

Pictured: Julie's parents. Before their passing, Julie’s mother and father lived in Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia. Her father immigrated to Halifax from Italy through Pier 21. In their youth, they enjoyed lively social events and dances in Halifax’s downtown core. Money raised through Julie’s DIY Birthday fundraiser will go towards improving cancer care at the QEII in their honour.

When Julie Callegari from Enfield, Nova Scotia, discovered DIY Birthday Fundraising with Alicia Mccarvell, she was inspired by the possibilities. This special initiative offers a chance to turn birthdays into a meaningful act of kindness.

Currently, influencer and self-love advocate Alicia Mccarvell is teaming up with the QEII Foundation to make birthdays even sweeter.

Instead of receiving gifts, participants can create their own DIY Birthday fundraising page, rallying friends and family to support a QEII cause dear to their hearts.

If participants raise $500 by March 31, 2024, they’ll receive an exclusive invitation to Alicia’s in-person, half-birthday party on April 6, 2024, in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“I follow Alicia online, and I know a few friends that know of her, too,” says Julie. “I recognized her in the campaign, which made me interested to learn more.”

What really intrigued Julie were the different QEII causes she could choose to fundraise for – in particular, cancer care.

As she signed up, her fundraising journey took on special meaning as she reflected on the devastating impact of cancer within her own family.

In 2019, Julie’s father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Sadly, he passed away that December. Just a few short years later, in 2021, Julie’s mother was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

She went through several rounds of chemotherapy but unfortunately passed away later that same year from complications.

Throughout their healthcare journeys, both of Julie's parents received cancer care at the QEII. Now, she’s motivated to raise funds to enhance and sustain cancer care at the QEII, ensuring top-notch support for future Atlantic Canadian patients.

 “My parents were both in their 80’s when they passed. They had a good, long life,” Julie explains.

“However, my father had been complaining of symptoms for nearly two years before he was eventually diagnosed through blood tests. He was very weak at that point.”

With Julie’s mother, the situation was similar – she received a late-stage diagnosis after several months of persistent symptoms.

“Perhaps, if they had detected the cancer sooner, the outcome could have potentially been different,” Julie expresses.

Every dollar raised through Julie’s fundraiser will go towards state-of-the-art CT simulation technology – equipment that will impact every patient receiving radiation treatment at the QEII.

New CT simulation technology means improved outcomes and higher cure rates for cancer patients. It will also decrease wait times, allowing patients to begin their radiation treatments on time and without delays.

To date, Julie has raised an astounding $4,399 through her DIY Birthday fundraising efforts.

“I’ve been reaching out to family and friend through social media – at the end, I’ll top it up myself.”

One of the most significant donations she’s received is from her workplace, the Labourers Union of Halifax.

“The people at my workplace were really moved by this cause – some had lost family members of their own to cancer,” Julie shares.

Currently, Julie is the top fundraiser for DIY Birthday Fundraising with Alicia McCarvell. If she holds her spot, she, along with the others on the Top 10 Fundraiser’s leaderboard, will receive a beautiful birthday gift hand-picked by Alicia from our presenting partner, Charm Diamond Centres, along with other exclusive opportunities to be announced.

Julie is eager to continue her fundraising efforts right up until Alicia’s celebration in April 2024. Julie’s own birthday is in July, but she’s happy to celebrate early.

“The whole point of this, to me, wasn’t about my own birthday, but to raise money for cancer care,” she expresses.

For those that are interested in starting their own DIY Birthday Fundraiser, there are plenty of causes to choose from. From mental health to heart health and much more, your birthday will make a difference in the lives of QEII patients – while also getting the chance to celebrate with Alicia for the night.

Julie has some great tips for starting a DIY Birthday Fundraiser of your own.

First, she emphasizes the importance of reaching out to everyone you know in your network – because you never know who your cause will resonate with.

“Ask everybody if you know if they're able to donate because the worst that can be said is no thanks,” she says.”

“If someone is financially able, they may contribute because your cause might hit home for them.”

She also says it helps to have common ground and mutual understanding of those you’re connecting with for your fundraiser.

“The majority of those who donated to my fundraiser have also been touched by cancer, so they understand where I’m coming from. Try to put yourself in the shoes of those who have been through the experience when you are explaining what you’re fundraising for.”

By choosing to donate their birthdays, our DIY Birthday Fundraisers are creating a meaningful impact across various QEII care areas, directly benefiting patients in Atlantic Canada.

As we showcase the incredible efforts of fundraisers like Julie, the excitement grows for an incredible celebration with Alicia Mccarvell in April 2024. Stay tuned for more details on this anticipated event!


Interested in getting involved? Instead of receiving birthday gifts this year, set up a DIY Birthday fundraising page and ask your friends and family to donate to a QEII cause close to your heart. And, if you raise $500 by March 31, 2024, you’ll receive an exclusive invitation to Alicia’s in-person, half birthday party on April 6, 2024, in her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Get your party started. Register today!