The Racquet Club’s annual Spin-a-Thon raises money for the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation, which the foundation puts toward the hospital’s psychiatry unit in support of mental health.
In times like the one we’re living in right now, the money raised by this year’s event may be more important than ever.
A total of 20 riders geared up and hit the exercise bikes at the club on Saturday to raise as much money as possible for the foundation. The event usually happens in May – coinciding with Canadian Mental Health Week – but the pandemic forced it to be pushed back to this past weekend.
Catherine Ardiles was in charge of the organization this year, as she’s done in past years, and said she felt this was the best time to hold it.
“We didn’t want to just let it go, so we figured if we did it in early September, we’d still have a good turnout,” she said. “Mid-October would have been a little different because of flu season so I was hoping everyone would still be healthy by mid-September.”
Instead of having one giant group of riders, the participants were divided up into two waves of two hours each. The first group of nine riders started noon and went until 2 p.m. followed by the next group of 11, made up mostly of RCMP members, at 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The half-hour in between waves was to give the cleaning crew a chance to wipe down the equipment and sanitize everything.
Ardiles said the two waves idea was so the guideline dealing with the amount of people in the room could be kept.
“We (had) about half the bikes we normally have in there,” she said. “Everyone (was) at arm’s length, we (had) the air conditioner and filters going.”
Last year’s Spin-a-Thon raised $10,000 and Ardiles said she wasn’t expecting that much this year because of a combination of the time of the year and finances maybe not being what they have been in the past.
At the halfway point, $3,700 had been taken in.
“If it was $3,700 for the entire day, I would be very happy,” she said.
The final amount wasn’t known as of press time.
Patty Olexin-Lang, the foundation’s executive director, was on hand for the day’s proceedings and said she’s just grateful for people digging deep to help out.
“It’s been such a challenge for businesses and organizations but we’re just so happy that people are giving, especially now for health care,” she said. “We’ve found that even though we’re in these unprecedented times, people are certainly generous.”
The money raised last year went to purchase fitness equipment, which included workout mats, DVDs of yoga and aerobics and even some heavy-duty blenders to incorporate healthy eating, she added.
“People are there, for whatever reason it is, but they still want to feel healthy and do things to keep them healthy,” she said. “Giving them that opportunity makes a big difference for their well-being and overall mental health.”
This year’s money has yet to be earmarked, said Olexin-Lang, and once the final total is in, the foundation will talk to the psychiatry unit to see what’s needed.
Ardiles said the September hosting is a one-off and the hope is to return to the regular time in May.
“It coincides with mental health and it’s also the time of year where people aren’t quite outside yet,” she said. “They want that challenge, maybe, but depending on what happens in the world, we may stick with this two-group format because we may not be able to go back to 27 bikes at once.”