The Lacombe and Distric FCSS is kicking of their annual Fill-A-Fridge Campaign and this year they received a big boost from Village of Clive Counsellor Jeremy Whelan, who biked from Clive to Medicine Hat to raise funds for the program.
Whelan, who raised $2,200 for the program, actually started as a way to get fit.
“I thought I should get myself into better shape and when I was younger, I raced cross-country mountain bikes. I thought I better start riding again,” he said.
As Whelan was thinking about challenging himself with a long-distance ride, Lacombe FCSS came into a Clive council meeting and discussed how their funding structure worked, including Fill-A-Fridge. The program, which hands out grocery vouchers during the holiday season to eligible families, is funded through donation and faced a serious shortfall in 2018.
Whelan was disheartened to hear such an important program was not fully-funded and decided he would use his bike ride as way to help fundraise towards the $55,000 needed to fund the program in 2019.
“Thinking about the children was what affected me the most. Being a child myself, we had hard times we fell on and programs like Fill-A-Fridge was something my parents utilized,” Whelan said.
Once the details of the fundraiser was ironed out with FCSS, Whelan continued to train for his trip to Medicine Hat
“It took me 16 hours in total,” he said. “The first day I left from Clive at 4:30 a.m. and raced the rain that was coming in. I was able to get to Brooks by 3:30 p.m. that day and only had a few sprinkles near Stettler.
“The next morning we left from Brooks at 7 a.m and it is an uphill climb from Brooks to Medicine Hat. I did not expect that. That last leg was a battle.”
Whelan was able to accomplish all the goals he set out: To raise money ($2,200) for Fill-A-Fridge, to get fit and to reach Medicine Hat.
The experience was rewarding for Whelan and he hopes to carry on.
“I am looking forward to organize for next year and possible do something perhaps longer and bigger to raise awareness and also funds for the charity,” he said.
Whelan said this is an important cause for people to support leading up to the holiday season.
“This is the time when families are affected most. It is the time that families are getting together and if someone is suffering — it really affects them throughout the holidays. It should be a time of rejoicing and being happy,” he said.
Cash donations for Fill-A-Fridge are accepted at the Lacombe FCSS office, through the mail or at lacombefcss.net. Charitable tax receipts are available for all donations over $10.
“Everyone in the Lacombe County area should know that these programs are available and if you are in need, you can talk to someone at FCSS. They can possibly find a way to turn around something that is going on in their lives,” Whelan added.