Fundraiser for Kitwanga Ambulance station moves online

Annual Humpy Run cancelled but online fundraiser being held instead

The humpy run has been changed to an online auction this year because of the ongoing health crisis. (Contributed photo)

Another week and another announcement of an event being cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

This time the annual Humpy Run in Kitwanga has fallen victim.

However, organizers have reorganized their efforts and will be doing an online auction instead.

This would have been the sixth year for the fundraiser that aims to build a new ambulance station in Kitwanga.

“We waited to see if there would be changes with COVID, but with the challenges we regretfully had to cancel the event because it is quite hands on,” said Finance Director for the Kitwanga Community Association Cathy Morgan. “The 500 fish are tossed in the river and there is usually a big gathering on the side of the river to watch the race.”

The numbered cut out cedar fish ((humpy is the common name for the pink salmon) float down the rapids and it takes about 30 mins for them to get to the finishing line where there are people to collect them. The people who bought the numbers to the first fish caught win a prize. Last year’s first prize was a flight anywhere around the world with WestJet.

The event also usually features a barbecue, 50/50 draw, a toonie toss and merchandise sales to raise even more money. Morgan said people come from all over the province to participate.

The community association wants to build a fire protection emergency building for a new ambulance station in Kitwanga that would serve the whole northwest.

“They do transfers, the crew go as far as Burns Lake and up to Dease Lake and does transfers to Prince Rupert and Kitimat so it does serve the whole northwest,” said Morgan.

The current Kitwanga ambulance station is located in a former provincial forestry building that doesn’t meet current standards. It lacks a kitchen and sleeping quarters.

She estimates the cost to build it is around $800,000, maybe less if they can use volunteers and local supplies. So far, they have raised close to $100,000. They have plans to ask for federal and provincial grants and are also looking for help from industrial partners as well.

The plan was to start building in 2021 but the pandemic has set them back a bit. However, they recently got a rural planning grant to help with the planning part.

This year, instead of the doing an actual live event, they will be hosting an online auction through Facebook. Currently, donations of items to be auctioned off are welcomed.

“We are being very careful who we ask,” she said. “In the past, we’ve asked hotels and restaurants and they’ve given us gift cards but we are just approaching businesses that were open during the COVID closures because we don’t want to over tax people who have been hurt economically by the closures.”

They were hoping to raise around 30,000 with their onsite fundraiser but now that they’ve moved to an online auction format, their new goal is $20,000.

A preview of the items will be made available on August 30 on the event’s facebook page Kitwanga Humpy Run 2020. Bidding will be on Sept 12.

-with files from Rod Link

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