The Kitwanga Community Association is one step closer to meeting their goal of raising $100,000 towards building an ambulance station after hosting their 5th annual Kitwanga Humpy Run on Sept. 7.
Over 175 people gathered at the Kitwanga River to watch 500 cedar fish, each tattoed with a number on it, float down to the finish line eagerly watching to see if their numbered ticket was a match to win one of the top 15 prizes. Raising $10,000 from the main event, they sold out selling 500 tickets at $20 each, bringing the overall total to $80,000.
“The weather held out wonderfully, there was a great vibe in the air,” says Lola Coultier, Kitwanga Community Association member. “People were excited because we had some great prizes.”
The number one prize was won by Ian Lundquist from Prince Rupert, taking home a roundtrip flight for two to a destination anywhere in the world that WestJet regularly flew into.
Second prize winner Rena Hummel from Kitimat claimed the $1,000 cash prize, with Dwight Biggar taking the third prize of an $800 value quilt donated by Kitwanga Quilters. Other prizes include a two-night stay at Coho House, a $300 Laser Clock and a convection oven. Cloutier says they were surprised to sell out all the tickets, with some people purchasing them as far as Alberta.
“So many people from throughout the North, even our families and friends bought tickets, we’re grateful for that,” she says. “As well as the generous donations, so many businesses and individuals donated for the additional prizes that we gave away.”
Alongside the main event, the day was filled with other fundraising booths and food to raise money for a new ambulance station in the area. For five years, the community has been coming together to gather funds to make it all possible.
Recently, they had land donated to house the new ambulance station and although the cost of building one with all the equipment is estimated to be approximately $1 million, Coultier says they believe they can do it for less.
“I don’t think they thought a small community could raise the money necessary… but we think we can do it,” she says. ” We’re looking for local sources of lumber and by using some volunteer labour, we built our own church in our community, we built our own school gymnasium.”
She says having an ambulance station is crucial for the Northwest as it benefits the entire region. Ambulances transfer patients to one another to get them to hospitals so by having one in a more remote area, it allows a quicker emergency response time.
Coultier adds she’s been impressed with how eager the community is to make this dream a reality, with people constantly offering different ways to help.
“Every year, there seems to be more people coming on board asking what they can do to help… I have no doubt that in the next year, we should be at the planning stage where we can start getting ready to build.”