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Row, row, row for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Lori Penner

A 24-hour rowing machine marathon drew six teams and hundreds of supporters to Crossfit Outland in Altona From April 7 to 8. The “Row for Kids” event was held to raise funds for the Altona chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the end, the fundraiser far exceeded expectations, raising thousands of dollars for the organization which supports kids through programs and mentorship.

A 24-hour rowing machine marathon drew six teams and hundreds of supporters to Crossfit Outland in Altona From April 7 to 8. The “Row for Kids” event was held to raise funds for the Altona chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the end, the fundraiser far exceeded expectations, raising thousands of dollars for the organization which supports kids through programs and mentorship.

ALTONA - 

A fundraiser this past weekend raised over $10,000 for the Altona chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The event was reminiscent of the old dance marathons held decades ago. But in this case, six teams raised pledges and kept six rowing machines going for 24 hours straight.
The 24-Hour Row for Kids event was possible through the combined efforts of Crossfit Outland owner Dan Maguet and Canadian Lumber manager Dwight Neufeld.
“We’ve got a number of rowing machines here at Crossfit, so I thought it would be cool to hold a rowathon to support a local cause,” Maguet says.
“I approached Dwight and he thought it was a great idea, and suggested Big Brothers Big Sisters. They recently expanded into Altona, and need funding to support their programs and increase their mentorships. It’s an important organization. What kid doesn’t need mentoring and encouragement?”
Planning for the event began three months ago, and they were delighted with the response. “We had six teams varying from 15 to 30 people, made up of families, friends, local businesses and organizations. They each had their own system of managing the 24  hours, working out their own shifts. Some even stayed the night.”
The final total came from the $200 per team entry fee and pledges raised by team members. There was also a silent auction, a lunch sponsored by Pioneer Meat and a brisket dinner sponsored by Red River Glass that were open to the public.
“The idea was not only to raise funds, but to also raise awareness of Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was also a great way to introduce people to fitness options they may have never considered. Many of the participants had never tried a rowing machine before. That’s the beauty of a rowing machine. Anyone can do it, regardless of your age or fitness level. It’s easy on the joints. You can go at your own pace. I was really impressed with how hard people worked to keep those machines going.”
Maguet says their initial funding goal was $5.000, but within five hours, they’d already raised over $6.000.
There was also some friendly competition between the teams, to see who could log the most metres. Together, the teams rowed 1,819,497 metres, or roughly the distance from Altona to Vernon, BC.
“Our goal is to make this an annual event, and build on it each year, possibly inviting other gyms to participate. There’s so much potential here,” Maguet says.
BBBS mentoring coordinator Kerri Bennett says she is deeply grateful for the effort that was put into the event, and blown away by its success. “It was inspiring to see so many people come out to either participate or cheer the teams on. Seeing so many kids involved was also good to see. Seeing that enthusiasm made me so grateful to the people of this community.”
Bennett says the organization has grown since it expanded into Altona. “We have about 23 kids involved so far, either through group programs or one on one mentoring, in school or in the community. Right now, we’re really pushing to find more volunteers. There’s lots of demand. We really want to build those mentoring roles.”
BBBS needs to meet national standards, through the screening and monitoring process, which is part of the budget. Funds are also needed for supplies and activities.
“Right now, Winkler and Morden are also including high school students who mentor elementary school students for an hour a week. This is something we’d also like to see in Altona. This event shows such amazing local support from businesses and community members! Altona has made the expansion of BBBS to the community a reality and once again shown their passion in building stronger community by making this event an incredible success.”