The Elk Valley was out in force this long weekend, with 81 keeners signing up for the 4x4x48 challenge to raise funds for Foundry East Kootenay, a planned regional youth mental health centre.
Participants were mostly from Sparwood, but folks from Elkford, Fernie, Crowsnest Pass and beyond in East Kootenay (and even as far away as Vernon) signed up for the two-day challenge, braving weather conditions that deteriorated through the weekend.
Done solo or in a team, participants had to run or walk four miles (or bike 16km) every four hours for two days.
“It was a great turnout,” said event organizer, Sparwood local Calvin Domin.
“Every time we do something like this I am in awe of the Elk Valley. The Elk Valley just turns up, it’s quite inspiring.
“We had people who had never run a marathon jump in and pull off a really grueling solo. It’s impressive what people did to raise funds for the youth mental health for Foundry East Kootenay.
Foundry East Kootenay will be a walk-in mental health facility for youth between 12 and 24 to be built in Cranbrook.
The Starlite – Not Alone campaign has been formed by the East Kootenay Foundation for Health and the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Family and Child Services Society to raise $1.4 million for the centre. Fundraising began six months ago.
The 4x4x48 challenge has raised at least $15,000 – though there’s still some counting to do, as donations get tallied up over the next few days.
Overall, over $540,000 has been raised for Foundry East Kootenay, which is something Domin said was needed in the East Kootenay due to the reach of mental health issues in communities, and the difficulty people have accessing help.
Domin said that Foundry East Kootenay being planned as a walk-in facility was vital for filling a hole in services.
“We know with mental health and substance abuse issues, you can’t wait to be referred for help – sometimes those issues need to be dealt with immediately. I truly believe walk-in and immediate support for youth and their family will be an incredible help.”
Domin said there was no doubt there would be more fundraising efforts to come in the near future.
“We’re still a ways off, there’s still lots of fundraising to be done, but we’re well on our way.”
Brenna Baker of the East Kootenay Foundation for Health said that there were hopes that construction on Foundry East Kootenay could begin (and even be completed) this year, with a location soon to be announced in Cranbrook.
The 4x4x48 challenge, and other events like it were the key to community support, said Baker.
“It didn’t only raise funds, it raised a tonne of awareness too,” she said.
“This centre is going to be a vital avenue for youth to get help.”
While the Foundry East Kootenay will be located in Cranbrook, it is open to all youth in the East Kootenay.
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