Over 250 walked, curled and played hockey at first ever Rainbow for the Future fundraiser event named ‘Sports for Ethiopia’

By Shawn McGuire |

The Westlock Rotary Spirit Centre was a hive of activity for the inaugural Rainbow for the Future’s Sports for Ethiopia event.

Starting with the puck drop at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 18, and up until the final buzzer at 5 p.m. the next day, over 250 participants walked, curled or played hockey in the first-time fundraiser. It all culminated with a banquet at Westlock and District Community Hall on Saturday night.

Rainbow for the Future chair Leo Seguin couldn’t have been happier with the scale of participation.

“It was amazing actually. We expected maybe 100 and we ended up with over 200,” Seguin said.

“A month ago we didn’t know how it was going to turn out. We’re very pleased with how it all evolved.”

From puck drop, hockey teams occupied the Spirit Centre ice for the full day, each taking two-hour shifts, while curling went Friday night and picked up again Saturday morning, while walkers hit the track at their leisure.

Among those who participated over the weekend was mayor Ralph Leriger, who walked 10-kilometres carrying 50 pounds of weight on his back to simulate conditions for women fetching water in Ethiopia, while Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken donned his gear and hit the ice early Saturday morning.

“It went good. The weight was a little heavy,” the mayor admitted.

“When they talk about these women that have to walk five and seven kilometers to get water for their families on a daily basis …it’s one thing for us to suck it up and do it once … those people have to be mentally tough every day of their lives just to survive.”

Van Dijken was also eager to throw his support behind the first-time event.

“Any time we recognize in our First World countries that there are people around the world that need assistance … I really think it’s part of our role to reach out and to try and help,” van Dijken said, noting he laced up his skates at the request of his fellow Wildrose MLAs in exchange for their support.

“I survived. It was a lot of fun.”

Although the final tally won’t be available for another week, Seguin said already they’ve done “quite well.”

The cash will go towards supporting orphan children, as well as women living with HIV in Ethiopia.

“For every person that participated, hockey player, walker, curler or runner, they’re able to provide funding for one individual for a year — provide them food, school books, supplies, lodging, school uniform and school fees,” said Seguin.

“For the HIV women it provides a micro-loan for them that keeps them going for a year, until they’re self-sufficient.”

Seguin said Sports for Ethiopia initially started with the idea to hold a 24-hour hockey game, and grew into a full out sports-a-thon, which the organizations plans to host again next year.

“I think it’s going to become an annual event. I think every charitable group needs a niche, a function that is theirs, I think this is the function we’ll key one,” he said.

Source: Westlock News
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