Rebecca Laramée and Alexandra Panagoulia love running, and both volunteer with Future Sinai.
“I’ve been involved with Sinai Health for five years now,” says Rebecca. “Over that time I’ve been able to see first-hand the incredible work being done.”
So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the two friends decided to combine their passions. They created a virtual 5K challenge, and invited their friends and family to run, walk or bike to raise funds for Sinai Health’s front-line workers.
“A lot of our Future Sinai fundraising events got canceled because of the pandemic, and we wanted to engage with the community to virtually raise funds for front-line workers,” says Alexandra.
The pair decided to create an event that would be fun for them, and fun and accessible for their friends and families.
“Do something that lights you up! Needlepointing, baking, arts-and-crafts, exercise,” says Rebecca. “Whatever it is, it’s easy to promote it if you love it. You also have to believe in the cause and stand behind it.”
So the duo signed up on Sinai Health’s new fundraising platform, created their profiles and put together their event.
“Once the challenge was set up, it was really easy,” says Rebecca. “We promoted it for a few weeks through email and social media.”
The women decided to create a month-long challenge, and used the time to reach out to friends and family (you can still donate to Rebecca and Alexandra’s 5K Challenge here).
“Try to encourage your immediate family or friends to join and create a little team of their own!” says Rebecca. “We had two girls, who joined our team, but they also created their own mini-team and invited their family members.”
Alexandra even helped her friends and families train and prepare, inviting a few people to meet up for a physically distant training session.
“We paired up, and two of us ran while the other two walked. We planned out the route, met up and did the race, and finished with some stretching. I even took a few minutes to tell them about Sinai Health and make it seem official.”
Over the next few weeks, Rebecca and Alexandra’s team all promoted the event and raised funds for their runs, walks or bike rides. The day of the event, Sunday June 28, the team members queued up for a 9 a.m. start. All members of the team ran in small groups, under 10 people, in accordance with Ontario guidelines.
“Even though it was virtual it felt like an event,” says Rebecca. “Everyone posted pics and hash-tagged. Some people even celebrated with a mimosa.”
Now Alexandra and Rebecca are thinking about what fun events they might plan to do next to support Sinai Health.
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