Fernie Adaptive Snowsports – FIRE has recieved a $15,000 grant from Canadian Tire, providing the special-needs snowsports program with much needed security following two years of being out-of-commission due to COVID-19.
“It gives us such security,” said FIRE president Debbie Zammit.
“This is our startup year, and so equipment, insurance, training, it’s just made such a huge difference for us.”
The $15,000 came directly from the broader Canadian Tire company, and was given to the Fernie branch as a prize for winning first place in their tier in a 2021 Jumpstart program fundraising contest, according to the Fernie Canadian Tire branch owner, Angus McDonald.
Through September, $6,000 was raised at the cash register of the shop from individual customer donations ranging from $1, $2, $5, and $10.
“(The customers have) been incredibly supportive, to the point that we were number one in Canada for our store size, which awarded us a $15,000 prize to donate to a Jumpstart program within our community,” McDonald said.
The Jumpstart program raises money to help get kids involved in sports. All the money raised through the Fernie Canadian Tire stays in the Elk Valley, McDonald said.
McDonald said they chose FIRE because it was about getting kids out there playing sport.
He also said Canadian Tire has a store manager with a daughter who uses the FIRE program.
“She filled me in on how great it was, and when (her daughter) goes skiing, how exciting it is for her… It just felt good to do the right thing with that.”
Zammit said she thinks “it’s huge” that the Fernie Canadian Tire won the Jumpstart fundraising competition.
“To get a grant like this from Canadian Tire for the first time, I can’t even tell you what it does for us. Because we’re scraping the barrel and figuring out how we can do anything,” she said, adding that the grant has given them some financial leeway for the year and looking forward into next year.
Zammit said that “training is massive for us,” and that they’ve trained 14 instructors this year alone, which “is quite an expense.”
On top of training, insurance, and equipment, Zammit said FIRE would also like to suit up their instructors for more program visibility.
“We also hope to put jackets on our instructors because we want them to be seen.”
Zammit said the program is “always looking for volunteers, especially for on-hill instruction.”