MONTREAL - When 16-year-old Mattis Pelletier started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to purchase a billboard in support of goaltender Carey Price, the ensuing reaction caught him off guard.
"It was a shock that in two hours it was already at $200. In half a day, we were at $800. It climbed up so fast," said Pelletier, a recent graduate of Collège Saint-Sacrement and soon-to-be first-year student at Cégep de Terrebonne. "I think the real shock was when I saw my name in the Montreal Gazette. Then I realized that the project was getting real. I never thought it would go viral this quickly."
It did, and Pelletier eventually reached - and ultimately exceeded - his goal of raising $1,500. To date, 102 people have combined to donate $1,570 to the cause since the page was created on June 14.
The Lachenaie resident elected to lead the charge online after he saw the six-time NHL All-Star being criticized on social media following a tough 2017-18 campaign between the pipes.
That didn't sit well with him, and he sprung into action.
"I wanted to show how dedicated we are. We wanted to show Carey Price our love and support," explained Pelletier. "Even through hard times, we still support our favorite athlete. We've always got his back."
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While Pelletier hasn't managed to secure the services of any billboard companies just yet, he isn't planning on giving up anytime soon.
"I'm still trying to contact agencies, but I don't think they're taking me seriously. It's hard, but I'm trying a new approach and explaining our story," shared Pelletier, who remains confident that his efforts will yield results. "It's going to happen. It's just been harder than what we thought."
Ideally, he would like to have a billboard in place in close proximity to the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard just in time for training camp.
"We wanted to get it up from September to October, so the players would see it every morning," said Pelletier, before going on to explain the design he had in mind. "We want it to be simple, like Montreal and a heart and 31. It's simple text, and it would read, 'From your fans.' It breaks the language barrier. It's a universal message."