Big Brothers Big Sisters host 16th annual Rubber Duck Race

By Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Contributor

Fort McMurray Fire Department Captain Patrick Duggan gets the race ready by spraying down the track with the help from volunteer Jorja Kelly. Photos by Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Fort McMurray Fire Department Captain Patrick Duggan gets the race ready by spraying down the track with the help from volunteer Jorja Kelly. Photos by Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Family fun and friendly competition is just what Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo (BBBS) had in mind when they hosted their annual Rubber Duck Race.

The event, hosted in partnership with the Wood Buffalo District Labour Council, was held on September 5 at the Snye Point Park.

Numerous participants in attendance enjoyed the Labour Day weekend festivities featuring a free barbecue, face painting, and bouncy castles.

While exact numbers for the fundraiser will be released next week by the organizers, initial estimates are of over $20,000 raised by the race.

“We had a great turnout this year. All funds raised go back to our association for programming serving the community’s youth,” explained Vanessa Stanley, Full Circle Mentoring Coordinator for BBBS, who oversaw the event.

Executive Director of BBBS Joanne Angel lines up the rubber ducks at Snye Point Park.

Executive Director of BBBS Joanne Angel lines up the rubber ducks at Snye Point Park.

Founded in 1980, BBBS of Wood Buffalo hosts three major fundraisers every year. In addition to the Rubber Duck Race, Curl for Kids’ Sake, which happened this March, and the SMS Equipment Wine Auction to be held on September 24 at the Shell Place Grand Ballroom are the group’s flagship events. Tickets are available for the wine auction from fortmcmurraywineauction.ca.

The group has a diverse range of programming, and prides itself on having volunteers who step up to be mentors.

“We provide the traditional mentoring program, matching youth and children to reach their full potential, which people know about; but we also have an in-school mentoring program, which is very similar but it happens on school grounds during school hours. (In addition) we have a Full Circle Mentoring Program, an Aboriginal initiative that happens after school. This program is currently in four schools, but expanding to 12 schools this year,” explained Joanne Angel, Executive Director, BBBS of Wood Buffalo.

Speaking of this year, Angel, who has been with the group since 2008 – first on the Board, and now executive director for a year, says they’ve seen an increase in requests for big brothers and big sisters following the wildfires.

“A lot of kids need the additional supports, because parents are the ones dealing with a lot of things like insurance, money, and finding a place to live. So it’s helpful to have just that one person, your person to talk to; this is good for the mental health of youth. It’s also good for parents to have someone who cares about their children.”

Angel emphasized anyone can access their services, not only those from a certain income bracket.

“There’s a misconception about low income families only accessing our services. That’s not true. We are here for every child who can use a mentor: someone shy, a new Canadian, or anyone who doesn’t organically have a mentor in their lives for an array of reasons. We are here, and you don’t need a referral from another agency. Just call or email us,” Angel said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo has a new location in the basement of the Unifor 707 building. Suite 5B-10019 MacDonald Ave. Visit http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/woodbuffalo/ for additional information.

– Connect Weekly –