Catholic Family Services grateful for ‘tremendous response’ to inaugural Ride for Refuge

Participants ride down Rotary Trail during the inaugural Ride for Refuge on Oct. 1. -- Photo courtesy of the Northern Image photographers.

Oct. 1 turned out to be a beautiful day for Catholic Family Services to hold their first ever Ride for Refuge fundraiser in support of mental health programming and its success has encouraged the organization to continue the event for years to come.

Event Director Margaret Duncombe said the turnout was exactly how they had hoped, with a goal of around 100 participants and 20 teams both biking and walking along the Prince Albert Rotary Trail.

“We had a tremendous response,” Duncombe said. “In total right now, we’ve made at least $38,000 and there’s still a few more pledges that need to come in.”

Catholic Family Services applied to run the Ride for Refuge event through Canadian charity granting foundation, Blue Sea. It is one of three peer-to-peer fundraising events for social service charities offered through the foundation where charities can earn their grant through successful fundraising efforts. The Prince Albert YWCA also partners with the Blue Sea Foundation for their annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser for individuals facing homelessness.

“Across Canada, there were 40 charities that all did the same event, on the same day, at the same time. Blue Sea provided all of the expertise, the website, the t-shirts, and handled all of the financial transactions. Blue Sea enables a charity like ours, that is so busy providing mental health services, where our staff does not have the capacity or energy, into organizing a fundraising event,” said Duncombe. “We couldn’t have done it without them, and it turned out really successfully for us.”

After the 22.6 kilometre walk or ride around Rotary Trail, participants were invited back to a meal of burgers and hotdogs courtesy of the Knights of Columbus, with food provided by Harold’s Family Foods.

“All-in-all, the event was a big success,” said Duncombe, who said their list of sponsors include Canadian Tire, Northern Lights Casino, and the Prince Albert Rotary Club.

Ride for Refuge 2023 is already in the works, according to Duncombe. The committee has already recommended to their board that the event be held again next year, this time on Sept. 23, so as not to interfere with the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.