Medicine Hat, AB- Weekends throughout the spring and summer months were once packed with charity walks throughout the city.
Over the last few years though, the number of events in Medicine Hat has started to dwindle because of a lack of participation.
Right now, the Alzheimer's Society is struggling with their event scheduled for next month. Alariss Schmid, the regional lead for the society says only three walkers are registered.
“I think trying to have it stand out, or be fresh. I think sometimes people feel uncomfortable trying sometime new, so helping people to know that they are welcome, even if they haven’t attended before.”
The Crohn's and Colitis Canada chapter is also struggling to get numbers to their annual June walk. This is despite the fact that Canada has some of the highest rates of the diseases in the world.
“I know when I started getting involved, I believe the rate was one in 160 Canadians and now it’s up to 140. So it’s definitely not getting better.” Said the local chapter President Dane Kosolofski.
This isn’t just a problem charities in Medicine Hat are struggling with.
An organization called Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada has surveyed the 30-largest fundraising programs that involve people pledging others.
They found between 2014 and 2017, these events saw about a six percent drop in revenue every year.
Something that the MS Society says has been tough to adapt to.
“One of the challenges of course given our current economic climate, it is fundraising. It is great for people to come out and participate in an event that is accessible to them. That everyone can participate in.” Said Darrel Gregory, the MS Society’s south central regional director. “But there’s no doubt that over the last few years, fundraising has become more difficult and that has led to, maybe not being able to fund all the research we want to fund.”
Jennifer Steier, who chaired the local JDRF’s Walk to Cure Diabetes last weekend, agrees with Gregory. She understands that people have so many charities to choose between.
“I think the challenge is in getting people on board and asking family and friends for donations. And looking at where people are financially in today's economy, sometimes it’s just not there to give.”
Steier’s daughter Sydney, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of three says that her favourite part of the walk, is getting to meet other kids who also live with diabetes.
All organizers had similar feelings with Sydney, that the walks aren’t just about fundraising, they're also about giving people a chance to connect.
“I think, like I heard one person say, the MS Walk is like Christmas for them right. So they live with this unpredictable disease all year, and this event is an opportunity to come together, with other people sharing a similar journey and talk to each other and support each other.” Said Gregory “I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Schmid says that an average of 25 new people visit the Medicine Hat Alzheimer office each month and is hopeful that more will be able to come out and support the organization on June 7th.
Kosolofski has similar hopes for the Gutsy Walk on June 2nd.
“We’ll be at Central Park, we do have a smaller walk. So we don’t have some of the fancy stuff like bigger walks but maybe as we grow it, we’ll get more as far as entertainment. Maybe a BBQ.” He continued saying “Come out and meet other people with similar issues. You can have a chance to talk with them and see that your are not alone with it.”
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