Young Life of Canada Donor Story

94 year-old zipliner’s estate gift supports Canadian youth

Mike Manning
Vice President of Development
Young Life of Canada

Ruth Oliver Cummings, who passed away in January 2020 at age 98, was considered by many to be the matriarch of Young Life’s work in Canada.

Ruth bravely took on one of Canada’s longest ziplines and holds the camp record for oldest rider at age 94.

Ruth and her husband Jack first heard about Young Life in the mid-1950s through a friendship with Primo Villaneuva of the BC Lions (who later ran Primo’s Mexican Grill for years at 12th and Granville).

Ruth and Jack hosted the first Young Life event (known as “club”) for teens in Vancouver in 1956. This event was attended by a teen from Magee High School named Don Crompton. Don would go on to be Young Life’s national director about 50 years later. Ruth and Jack’s involvement continued for seven decades in roles such as national board members, local committee leaders, event speakers, and more.

The family connection ran deep as their four children were also very involved. Their daughter Carol and son-in-law Bruce befriended a young couple from Vancouver named Jack and Catherine Mortensen who they supported to pioneer Young Life in Alberta in the 1970s. Their son Tom ran the family water park (Splashdown) for decades, hosting Young Life groups for years. Their daughter Patty with her husband Murray were volunteers and also hosted youth events.

In Ruth’s last visit to RockRidge Canyon (Young Life’s BC camp) about four years ago, she bravely took on one of Canada’s longest ziplines and holds the camp record for the oldest rider at age 94, a record that may well stand the test of time.

We are thankful for her heart for our mission to teens and all she and her family have given (and still give to this day) for nearly 70 years.

After Ruth’s passing, we were grateful to receive a gift from her estate that will be used over the next few years to support Young Life teams seeking to launch in new communities and to incentivize local areas to engage their donors about the benefits of planned giving. These initiatives will see Ruth’s incredible legacy multiplied even more. While 70 years of involvement and encouragement is amazing, the impact of her gift may last another 70 years through mission growth and future legacy gifts.

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