YWCA Virtual Run Exceeds Expectations

For the past four years, the YWCA’s Keeping Spirits Bright campaign has been running purely as a donation-based event. This year organizers wanted to take things to the next level. But, even the best-laid plans can go awry. As we’ve all seen, COVID has caused many a wrinkle in many a plan put forth by most businesses and events. However, year 5 of this particular event turned out to be nothing short of a Christmas Miracle!


Adding the virtual walk-run challenge was completely new,” explains YWCA Brandon’s Community Engagement Coordinator BJ Kirouac. “It was not only extremely important to meet the challenge of modifying the event but the demand of where the donations are purposed doesn’t go away, in fact, it increases.”


YWCA Brandon’s 5th Annual Keeping Spirits Bright campaign presented by Fusion Credit Union raised funds and awareness to support women and their families who experience domestic violence and homelessness over the holiday season and throughout the year.


This year’s efforts exceeded expectations, “We set a goal of $15,000 and wound up raising $17,170.00 which is absolutely amazing especially in the middle of a pandemic.” Kirouac says, “we’re hoping to have a live event kick off with our tree lighting ceremony so we can have even more community involvement.”


Another major component to the 2020 edition of the run was the Phys-Ed challenge which was open to schools in Westman. “This is really a win-win situation for all involved because not only do the kids get to take part in something to help a great cause they also get active and enjoy some exercise,” said Kirourac. “As it turned out because of complications with COVID some schools had to back out and we only had one complete the challenge.” It is with special acknowledgment, the Erickson Elementary School community raised $1,410.00. Students walked and ran 1,696 kilometres collectively from December 1st to December 18th. This means Erickson Elementary School will be receiving $782.00 on January 14th, 2021. This amount is comprised of a $500.00 prize for the winning school with most kilometers and 20% of their total fundraising.


It is also with pleasure to announce the winners for each category as follows:

  • Patti Couchuyt, winner of the 10km run,

  • Leanne Swayze, winner of the 5km run,

  • Mark Dabbs, winner of the 2 km run, and

  • Marnie Wallis, winner of the most KM’s.


Additionally, it is with gratitude to thank the support from local businesses in Westman and throughout the province. The YWCA extends thanks to, Fusion Credit Union who supported the campaign through their title sponsorship, TD Bank, Trend Collection & Bailiff Services, Western Financial Group as bronze sponsors, and Compass Credit Union and Heritage Co-op as sustaining sponsors. Further thank you to A&L Cycle, The Green Spot, YMCA Brandon, and Brandon University for their donations.


The funds raised through the Keeping Spirits Bright campaign will support the individuals including youth who are staying at the Westman’s Women’s Shelter and Meredith Place while under code red restrictions.


It was nice to wrap up the year on a positive note since these unprecedented times have introduced new challenges and expenses for YWCA. “We had to cancel our Women of Distinction Awards and we replaced our walk a mile which we replaced with a bike ride but you quickly adapt when you’re faced with intangibles and we gained experience by organizing and completing a successful virtual event,” Kirouac said.


Looking ahead to events scheduled later in 2021, there’s talk of either postponing the May date for the annual Westman Women of Distinction Awards to sometime in September or possibly running a virtual version of that popular event. “We would obviously prefer to do a live version of the Awards but now that we have this positive experience with the Run/Walk event we have an option,” said Kirouac.


YWCA Brandon looks forward to continuing the success and growth of this event in December 2021. Please follow @YWCABrandon on Facebook and Instagram or ywcabrandon.ca for updates and announcements on how you can get involved.