The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed members of the Oceanside Running Club Association.
Whatever the weather, they continue to run or walk regularly each week. For them, every day is a good day for a run, as an important exercise to keep fit and healthy.
However, there’s also another objective ORCA accomplishes every year, helping charities and other groups in Parksville Qualicum Beach.
Money generated from the popular Oceanside Mother’s Day race is traditionally donated by ORCA to Haven House, Forward House and the Mid-Island Distance Runners. But due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled last year and will not be staged again this May.
To meet ORCA’s commitments to their selected charities and group, five members took it upon themselves to find ways to raise funds on their own. Their dedication resulted in raising a total of close to $10,500 through sponsored solo runs.
“We kind of shifted gears, that’s the only way to put it,” said Paul Watson, ORCA president. “We relied on our members instead of the public at large to organize themselves to raise money for the specific charities, number one that the club has supported and number two, charities of their own choosing.”
Aside from Haven House, Forward House and Mid-Island Distance Runners, ORCA members also donated to the School District 69 Backpack Program, the Salvation Army Food Bank, the Society of Organized Services, and Philanthropic Educational Organization.
The club also allocated $1,600 to charities designated from the cancelled Mother’s Day Race and Learn to Run program last year.
“Because they were cancelled, participants who paid for their membership and race entries opted to make a donation instead,” said Watson. “That was really important particularly from the Learn to Run because almost all of them donated the race portion which was a little over $1,300 of the $1,600 to that particular cause.”
Individual runners who engaged in solo runs to raise fund included Mary Beil, Jill Davies, Barry Carr, Watson and his daughter Lauren. Watson said their efforts are commendable.
Davies, who is one of the club’s avid members, raised the most money individually, just over $5,000. She embarked on a 10k run after recovering from a running accident. She received major support from local businesses Mt. Arrowsmith Brewing Company, Quality Foods, and Cascadia Liquor Parksville.
Watson said they plan to continue doing it again this year. Beil, who kicked off the individual efforts last year, raising $1,300, already got the ball rolling. Despite having just recovered from surgery last October, she and Kate Flint completed a 10-kilometre run in February, raising $1,700 for the Coldest Night of the Year.
“We are looking to our membership again to do much the same as we did last year,” said Watson. “I know I will be involved in it. It continues our mission is the biggest statement that we make of giving back to the community of helping further the sport in terms of awareness and of course encouraging people to get out and be physically active. It’s something they can do regardless of the pandemic.
For more information about the club and membership, visit http://orcarunning.ca.