Catherine Mooney (1958-2013)

Catherine Mooney was relentless in raising money for research

By Heather Jordan Ross

Catherine Mooney of Souris West was a volunteer, artist, and entrepreneur. Most will remember her as an artist, the owner of Campbell’s Cove Campground, a constant fundraiser for breast cancer research, and a friendly face always willing to lend a hand.

She died of cancer Saturday at age 56. Mrs. Mooney is survived by her husband Charles and their family Andy, Jennifer, Scott, Joel, Katie and granddaughter Emma.

Mrs. Mooney grew up in Palisades Park, New Jersey, but came to PEI to visit family when she was 15. She came every summer and after learning to teach sign language at the University of Montevallo in Alabama in 1985, she planted herself in the place she loved – PEI.

“She knew she always wanted to live here,” her husband Charles said.

Her volunteer life in Souris began right away. Because she didn’t have the proper documents to work right away, she volunteered with the Red Cross as a friendly visitor – taking sick or elderly people meals or to hospital appointments.

“If there was something going on, and they needed someone to help out, she’d be the first one there,” Mr. Mooney said. “She couldn’t stay still.”

Mr. Mooney said his wife was loving and fair. She never hid her feelings. “She called it the way she saw it,” Mr. Mooney said.

Nancy Ching knew Mrs. Mooney for nearly 25 years.

“Cathy was one of those people I valued, like a piece of gold. I feel privileged to have known her,” Mrs. Ching said. “Her ability to empathize with and help people was one of the biggest and greatest gifts she had.”

Mrs. Mooney was involved in the community every way she could while raising her children – from school to hot dog programs to Cub Scouts and Girl Guides to 4-H.

Mr. Mooney said any student from age 23 to 33 from Souris probably knows some part of the sign language alphabet, and anyone from Scouts or Guides has a badge – but they didn’t get it easily. “She wouldn’t just give you a badge. You had to know sign language,” Mr Mooney said.

Mrs. Mooney was first diagnosed with breast cancer when her youngest daughter Katie was in kindergarten. “They only gave her a five per cent chance of making it for two years,” Mr. Mooney said. Katie graduated from UPEI last year.

When Mrs. Mooney was well enough, she started fundraising for breast cancer research. One of her first fundraisers was what would become the Eastern Kings Giant Yard Sale.

In the beginning, the yard sale covered five miles of the Rollo Bay loop. Mrs. Mooney sourced $15 from each participant to make a booklet, and gave them balloons. “Some people who didn’t want to have yard sales gave stuff to her, and all of the stuff in her yard went to breast cancer,” Mr. Mooney said. She raised $1,200 to $2,200 each year.

Mrs. Mooney gave up the yard sale, which now runs from Dingwells Mills to Eastern Kings, but continued to fundraise at the campground each year. The property became filled with donated yard sale items. “She would have stuff dropped off at her house for weeks and weeks and her house would be just full. It was just phenomenal, really,” Mrs. Ching said.

Mrs. Mooney became part of several fundraising groups, including Team Boobalicious for the CIBC Run for the Cure.

“What didn’t we do?” asked fellow teammate Wanda Downe.

Last year the team was top fundraiser at the run, and Mrs. Mooney was the top individual fundraiser. The team raised $19,000 through Valentine’s meals, Bingo, quilt draws, and more. It was their fourth consecutive year to win. “She believed in the cause and she wanted to help everyone,” Mrs. Downe said.

Mr. Mooney said he and his wife took over Campbell’s Cove eight years ago to spend time with their children. The campground will be open this summer.

“She took that campground from losing $22,000 a year to making a profit,” Mr. Mooney said incredulously. Most money went back into it, but Mr. Mooney said it was more about the friends they made. “The friends we’ve met were just unreal,” he said. “She had a special touch. She has people less than six years old asking about her, and I got a call from BC from a camper in his 90s.”

Mrs. Mooney fought breast cancer again two years ago, and then it reappeared in her throat a month ago.

“She told me she wasn’t afraid to die, but she had no intention of dying,” Mr. Mooney said. “She really thought she was going to battle this and be back. She fought this until the last minute.”

Mrs. Mooney loved music, having seen Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles in her American youth. Her casket was covered with the Beatles blanket she had quilted.

She died surrounded by family in hospital.

Reprinted with permission from