Paying the price

A KidSport Corporate Challenge team takes part in a bubble soccer game at the Alfred Jenkins Field House on Saturday. -- Submitted photo.

A total of six teams ran, kicked and served their way to raising $16,700 in the inaugural KidSport Corporate Challenge on Saturday, and not a moment too soon.

KidSport Prince Albert, which pays sports registration fees for local youth from low-income families, faced such an overwhelming demand for help in 2017 that they ran out of funds in September. Dwight Bergstrom, the organization’s chair, said they’re trying to avoid a repeat this year, and the KidSport Corporate Challenge went a long way to helping.

“The total support from the community, financially, I would say, exceeded what our expectations were,” Bergstrom said. “The business community really came on board…. It was really heartening to have that kind of support come in for us.”

On average, KidSport Prince Albert provides funding to roughly 300 kids per year, to the tune of about $240 or $250 per youth. That number has steadily increased recently due to improved communication with parents, but it’s created a predicament for the organization, which doesn’t have the funds to keep up with current demand.

“We ran out of cash, so we went October, November, December (of 2017) with applications coming in with no money to fund those kids,” Bergstrom explained. “We’re trying to not have that happen by getting the community more and more involved.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg too. Using the most recent census data on the number of low-income families in the city, Bergstrom estimates that as many as 4,600 youth in Prince Albert could potentially qualify for KidSport funding.

“I don’t know what we would do if we had 4,600 applications,” he said. “What we need to do now is grow the community support for KidSport (and) grow the community’s interest in funding kids through this program.”

Although the organization faces a significant potential demand, local businesses and non-profits have stepped up to help how they can. Even though only six teams competed in Saturday’s corporate challenge, many more donated a registration fee, even though they wouldn’t have enough people to compete.

Other organizations, like the Kinettes, the Optimist Club, the Prince Albert Ski Club, Hillside Physical Health and Fitness and the Prince Albert Outlaws lacrosse team, have all jumped in to hold KidSport fundraisers of their own.

Bergstrom said it’s encouraging to see these local businesses and organizations take the initiative, since there’s only so much KidSport itself can do.

“Thank goodness there are more and more organizations coming to us and saying, ‘can we do a fundraising event for you and dedicate the money to KidSport?’” he said. “That’s the only way we’re probably going to come close to meeting the demand that we think is going to grow in the city.”

KidSport Prince Albert tried to host as many events as possible in May, which is recognized as KidSport Month right across Canada. The corporate challenge was the cherry on top for the organization, and was successful enough to likely make a return in 2019, albeit with a few changes.

“We had some good feedback from the (teams) that were involved and the people who participated,” Bergstrom said. “It was our first year and we’re going to keep tweaking things, and hopefully the corporate and business support will stay as strong as it was this year and if we can get some more teams involved, I think we’re involved in a pretty good annual fundraiser here for these kids.”