Wet weather puts a chill on local charities
Last week’s rain put a damper on many things in the Calgary area, even for folks used to extreme adventure.
Organizers of the Banded Peak Challenge decided to pull the plug on their annual event on Thursday.
The event sees participants get a little dirty and raise a whole lot of money. The backcountry hike and bike race takes place west of Calgary and has been a big fundraiser for Alberta Easter Seals for the past 16 years. The money raised is used to help send kids with disabilities to Camp Horizon.
“Over 90 per cent of those dollars went right back to Easter Seals Camp Horizon and went to the subsidies for the families to make sure they didn’t have to pay any more than 50 per cent of those costs,” Patti Brewin, Easter Seals Camp Horizon’s campaign director, said.
“We knew this weekend with the rain, already the trails on Thursday were in really bad shape. Very unsafe for people to be on them at all. So we made the call to cancel it,” Brewin said.
For Easter Seals, the news has gone from bad to worse. The charity used to hold their annual race on Banded Peak near Bragg Creek. But when the floods of 2013 hit, the trail they used was wiped out and is still closed. Since then, the race has been held on nearby Moose Mountain but it hasn’t been nearly as popular.
“You still mountain bike and you still hike, but it’s Moose Mountain,” Brewin said. “It’s one of those trails that you could do any weekend. It’s very accessible, very easy to do. So the uptake from the public just isn’t as strong there for people to come out and really feel like they’re doing something exceptional.”
That has translated into fewer participants and a lot less cash. The Banded Peak Challenge used to typically bring in $80,000 every year for Easter Seals. The year it was moved, fundraising totals dropped to $50,000 and this year it was only projected to bring in $11,000.
“We’ve had a really tough time out there with the weather,” Brewin said. “It does put more pressure on us in terms of our other events. This is a tough year in Calgary. It’s a very depressed economy out there and those donations aren’t coming as freely as they were in the past so we are really feeling the effects. And we have taken measures already to reduce our operating costs for the year.”
Camp Horizon hasn’t been affected yet and families are still being subsidized to help cover the $1,200 cost of sending a child to camp for a week but that could change.
“We will be having all those big conversations I think this fall because this economy and the situation is probably not going to change,” Brewin said.
Another charity hit by the weather is the Rotary Club of Calgary. They were expecting to raise around $175,000 dollars at the annual Oxford Stomp event at Fort Calgary, which was cancelled Friday.
“Public safety was and always remains a primary concern for ourselves with events like this and it just look too risky,” Joe Fras, with the Rotary Club of Calgary-Downtown, said on Monday. “So with great reluctance, we had to make the tough call.”
Organizers said it’s the first time in the event’s history at the Fort Calgary location that it’s had to be cancelled. Ticket sales were already down by 20 per cent because of the economy.
On the plus side, the Rotary Club recently purchased event cancellation insurance for the Oxford Stomp.
“The good news is that we have the event cancellation insurance and we will be able to recover – hopefully – a good portion of that projected $175,000 plus our cost that we’ve incurred,” Fras said. “The weather patterns in Calgary and in other parts of the world are becoming a little more severe and unpredictable and this has just become a fact of life.”
The over 9,000 ticket holders will be contacted regarding refunds, however the process could take up to two months.
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