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This year would have marked the fourth annual CIBC Run for Our Lives Mud Run but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the first Mud Bucket Challenge was held instead to raise money for hospital cancer equipment.

Amber Henry demonstrates how the mud bucket challenge is done at the Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge parking lot last week. The food and beverage establishment on Range Lake Road hosted residents this past weekend for mud bucket pouring. The weekend event was held in lieu of the annual mud run, which could not be held this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
photo courtesy of Amber Henry

Last weekend, which would have been the same weekend as the mud run, residents were invited to the Copperhouse Eatery and Lounge to pour a bucket of mud over themselves.

The idea was to capture the spirit of the annual run but also to raise awareness in a similar theme as the viral ALS ice-bucket challenge campaign of past years.

There were no results in terms of the number of people dumping mud as organizers say it wasn’t being monitored and it’s not expected the restaurant will host the event again for the 2020 campaign.

To date, there has been $30,000 raised for the campaign, which was officially launched July 17 and will end on Nov. 1.

Overall, as of Monday afternoon, Team Diavik was in the lead in the corporate division with $3,555 raised while Minister Wawzonek Challenge led the individual fundraising with $3,121.50.

Last year the entire campaign raised $70,000, with a little more than $50,000 coming from the mud run alone.

Tricia Bourn, chair of the CIBC Run for Our Lives committee and director of Yellowknife Mud Run, said the run has been a growing event since it started at the Yellowknife Ski Club four years ago. However, because of the physical surfaces and group activities that draw hundreds of people together sharing the same mud, it could not be held this year due to the pandemic.

Last year, the event drew 450 people and often more than 50 people were sent through the course at a time. 

“Obviously this year was challenging with Covid and it was hard to wrap our heads around how it would work and what it was going to be like,” Bourn said. “So we came up with the mud bucket challenge where people mix a bucket of mud, dump it over their heads, fundraise and donate.

“We kind of mirrored it from the ALS ice-bucket challenge and went with that theme but tailored it to us. We have found that dumping a bucket of mud takes a bit of planning.

“This is a new format for us so we tried a bunch of different ways to get people motivated,” she said. “If we are put in a position to do this again, we will have a different kind of engagement and engage with the public a bit more because we found that it took a bit longer to catch on.”

Bourn explained that fundraising typically comes from a few key groups that include either corporations, groups within corporations or individuals hosting barbecues and raffles. The bulk of money raised usually involves face-to-face engagements, which made this year’s focus of raising money virtually much harder.

Patty Olexin-Lang, executive director with the Stanton Foundation, said it is disappointing that the mud run couldn’t take place but she was optimistic about the mud bucket challenge.

“Whether it beats (the mud run) or meets it or comes just short of past successes, it doesn’t really matter,” she said. “It is the generosity of people for health care in the NWT that matters.”

Olexin-Lang said there’s a need for a new mammography machine, but, beyond that, other items have yet to be identified.

“The Run For our Lives committee will wait to hear from the chemo unit and just see what comes up in the near future,” she said.

Donations are currently being raised through the Canada Helps website  and can be done either by donating directly, supporting a team or friend or creating a team to gather donations.

Last year, a vein-finder was purchased – a piece of equipment which resembles an X-ray and is used to locate veins for incision to chemotherapy patients.

This year, the foundation also purchased 4 iPADs for chemo patients to use while they were receiving treatment.

On top of the Run for Our Lives event, the hospital foundation holds an annual gala at the Explorer Hotel for hospital equipment. Olexin-Lang said a gala is not planned for this year due to the pandemic, however more details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University...

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