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Saskatchewan fundraisers go virtual amid COVID-19 restrictions

Saskatchewan fundraisers go virtual amid COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: Many Canadian charities are now hosting virtual walks to abide by COVID-19 restrictions on physical distancing and crowd sizes.

Organizations that rely on annual fundraising walks are hoping to stay on course by moving online.

Many Canadian charities are now hosting virtual walks to abide by COVID-19 restrictions on physical distancing and crowd sizes.

“It’s something new to us and it’s going to be something new to all of the people who have participated in the past,” said Bernadette Mysko, board chair for the ALS Society of Saskatchewan.

Rules for the online walks vary between organizations.

READ MORE: MS Society launches virtual movement #WeChallengeMS to help fundraise during awareness month

The ALS Society of Saskatchewan is hosting its virtual Walk to End ALS on June 21, in conjunction with other regions across the country.

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“You’ll still be able to pledge toward the walk, you’ll also be able to bid on silent auction items. You’ll be able to bid on our 50/50 draw,” Mysko said, adding the organization is still in need of draw prizes for the event.

She said the organization will livestream on Facebook throughout the day on June 21, featuring video interviews with ALS Society of Canada clients, among other content.

“Just getting that community spirit going across the country in a time when we’re just struggling to get out and do those things.”

Mysko said the regionally-hosted Walk to End ALS is a primary fundraiser for the ALS Society of Canada, adding the walks held in Saskatchewan alone bring in around $100,000 annually.

“$100,000 is a lot of money to us,” Mysko said.

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“One patient requires about $100,000 to support them with equipment and technology to maintain a decent quality of life.”

READ MORE: Cystic Fibrosis Canada asks Saskatchewan for help in advocating potential life-saving drug

Other organizations hosting virtual walks include the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan and Cystic Fibrosis Canada, both slated for May 31.

“We are encouraging people to walk their way, that’s our theme this year #walkyourwayforCF,” said Janice Daniels, who works for Cystic Fibrosis Canada in Saskatchewan.

Since crowds won’t be able to gather amid COVID-19 restrictions, Cystic Fibrosis Canada is issuing a virtual challenge in place of its annual walk.
Since crowds won’t be able to gather amid COVID-19 restrictions, Cystic Fibrosis Canada is issuing a virtual challenge in place of its annual walk. Cystic Fibrosis Canada / Facebook

People can still sign up in teams or as individuals, and share their personal challenges on social media.

“Normally it would be a walk people take part in, but we’re opening it up to however you want to take a challenge on in support of cystic fibrosis.”

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“Just getting that community spirit going across the country in a time when we’re just struggling to get out and do those things.”

READ MORE: Local business students raise more than $12K for Saskatoon charities

Smaller organizations have also found unique ways to move fundraisers online.

In March, Saskatoon’s New Hope Dog Rescue (NHDR), a foster-based animal organization, hosted a socially-distant dog disco — a livestream of music and puppies.

“It was really great, we actually saw fantastic support from the community and everybody had a really good time,” said Tricia McAuley, NHDR fundraising co-ordinator.

McAuley said they have cancelled a number of fundraising events due to COVID-19 restrictions, but will host the 12th Annual Mutt Strut online.

People can part in the virtual walk anytime until May 24. Registrants before May 1 will receive an event t-shirt.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Fundraiser aims to feed front-line health-care workers, support Hamilton restaurants

“They can walk on a treadmill, they can walk around the block — of course, observing social distancing and all that,” McAuley said.

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She said the organization typically raises about $10,000 through its Mutt Strut, and there will still be prizes for the most pledges.

“The need for fundraising for animals never stops, unfortunately, even during times like this,” she said.

“We do get animals in need, dogs in need, that need special medical care all the time and we always want to ensure we will be there to help them.”