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Donated Taylor Swift tickets a gold rush for mental health foundation

Kristi Allan loves Taylor Swift, and she loves the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation, too. When she put both of them together, it resulted in the biggest fundraiser the group — which provides counselling and other services in Newfoundland and Labrador — has ever seen.

Raffle for concert tickets snagged by mental health advocate Kristi Allan expected to raise thousands

A young woman with black hair and dark rimmed glasses.

A mental health advocate in Newfoundland has launched a fundraiser that's been successful beyond her wildest dreams, pairing her favourite foundation with tickets to see her favourite artist.

Kristi Allan knew people would clamour for Taylor Swift tickets if she could just get her hands on a pair — but she also knew all too well she'd have to compete with millions of fans to get them.

How she got them is a story she still can't believe.

"Once I got it in my head I started looking on all the Facebook groups, on Twitter, everywhere," she said. "For this one I went to eBay."

She found two tickets to the opening night of the Toronto edition of the Eras Tour on Nov. 14. Allan messaged the seller, saying she'd be grateful if he would abandon the auction and sell them for a good cause.

She couldn't believe it when the seller actually did it.

"Greed has taken over for a lot of people, but he could have made a lot more money on those tickets," Allan said.

Allan has been raising money for the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation for three years. The foundation provides free counselling and peer support services to people between the ages of 12 and 35. It was launched after the death of Jacob Puddister, a 21-year-old man who died by suicide in 2016.

His sister, Kelsey, said she's evermore grateful to Allan for the work she's done to raise money and awareness of their foundation.

"Kristi has helped us more as an individual than I could ever even imagine," Puddister said. "For years now, we've been able to rely on Kristi for these major fundraisers for us, which is always truly mind-blowing to me when someone sees what we're doing and cares so much about it. There's really no words to describe the gratitude."

The foundation is selling about 2,000 tickets (unfortunately just shy of 1,989 due to rules set by the provincial lottery legislation) for the grand prize. Allan said the demand has been so high, her email inbox has crashed on several occasions.

"It makes me so, so happy," she said. "The foundation does incredible, incredible work and it makes all of this worth it."

'Something tangible'

Allan has spent one day every week for the past two years protesting for better access to long-term mental health support. She even protested on her wedding day.

She said it's been a frustrating experience at times. She used to protest outside the Waterford Hospital, before bringing it to politicians at the Confederation Building.

"I like to do something tangible, because I've got to say I get really discouraged being in front of Confederation every Monday," she said. "I always want to do something that makes a tangible difference and makes it more accessible. And I believe in everything the foundation does."

There will be one more opportunity to buy tickets for the raffle in person. Puddister said she'll be at the St. John's Farmers Market on Oct. 22 and is expecting to sell out the last batch of tickets.

The draw will be held on Dec. 9.

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