Manitoba man paying it forward with fundraising runs for Bear Clan Patrol

Cole Dimitroff on one of his fundraising runs in support of the Bear Clan Patrol.
Cole Dimitroff on one of his fundraising runs in support of the Bear Clan Patrol. Twitter / Cole Dimitroff

A Beausejour, Man., man is hitting the streets in support of a Winnipeg community organization, running 10 kilometres a day to raise funds and awareness for the Bear Clan Patrol.

Beausejour resident Cole Dimitroff told 680 CJOB he was inspired by the Bear Clan’s selfless support for a northern reserve where he used to live.

“The Bear Clan Patrol was one of the first ones that helped fundraise money for Cross Lake during the suicide pandemic four years ago,” said Dimitroff.

“Unfortunately, I had friends who were suffering from deaths there… I’m just tired of always complaining in life… ‘This isn’t good, this isn’t good, I really should do something,’ but then never doing anything. It was kind of a personal challenge, too.”

Cross Lake First Nation, located on the eastern shore of Cross Lake, declared a state of emergency in March 2016 after the community saw six suicides and more than 140 suicide attempts in only a few months.

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Dimitroff — who disliked running at the outset of the fundraiser — said it wasn’t an easy undertaking, but two weeks into his campaign, he feels like he’s making a difference.

“I have one more week left. I’ve been running 10 kilometres per day. It’s been great but it’s definitely a little more than I thought it would be on the joints,” he said.

“My parents always taught me… you should just do stuff in the sense that everyone’s your friend. You need to be there for everybody because you don’t know what’s going on in their lives, you know?”

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READ MORE: Coronavirus pandemic not slowing tide of inner-city drug use, desperation: Winnipeg Bear Clan

Dimitroff has smashed his original goal of raising $750 for the organization, and thanks to the community’s support, he’s netted almost $5,000 for the Bear Clan with seven days left in the campaign.

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The Bear Clan has remained active throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, picking up used needles from Winnipeg streets, helping to clean up the inner city and delivering food hampers to those in need.

Brian Chrupalo, Bear Clan Patrol board chair, previously told Global News the COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious effect on many Winnipeggers in the inner city, including the homeless population.

“It’s really had a double and triple impact in our community and, sadly, it’s not for the better,” he said.

“One of my primary concerns right now is the desperation that exists in the community is really scary.

“The need for us in the community is still there, so we are out and about, we’re just changing how we’re doing business.”

Bear Clan to begin delivering food hampers amid COVID-19 pandemic
Bear Clan to begin delivering food hampers amid COVID-19 pandemic