Local run club gives back through the 2024 Desjardins Charity Challenge

The Desjardins Charity Challenge provides an opportunity for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend participants to support local organizations and charities in their community by raising funds while crushing kilometres. Since 2015, the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Charity Challenge has raised over 7.5 million dollars!

You can sign-up for the Desjardins Charity Challenge individually, or as part of a team. Fundraising can be a great team-building opportunity for your workplace, or bonding experience for your friends, family and of course, your run crew! Fundraising for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend as a team can be fun and can help keep you accountable to your training and fundraising. Teams can also pool their resources and share in the workload of pulling off a fundraising event, like a trivia night, a wine and cheese soiréel, or an auction.

Marcus Courbould is the leader of the Aylmer Run Crew’s Desjardins Charity Challenge fundraising team. We had the chance to speak with him about Aylmer Run Crew and their fundraising efforts.

How did the Aylmer Run Crew choose to participate in the Desjardins Charity Challenge?  

I originally wanted to participate in the Desjardins Charity Challenge because it made it easy to raise money for a charity of choice. In 2021, I raised about $5,600 for a small charity named CC4Africa while running the Ottawa Half Marathon presented by Desjardins. When I decided to try to complete the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon in 2023, I knew that it would be another opportunity to fundraise. 

I had been running with Aylmer Run Crew for a while, and I knew there was a team participating in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, so I asked if we could raise funds for Ottawa Salus as part of the 2023 Desjardins Charity Challenge. It turned into a great success! Our team raised a couple thousand dollars. Mayor Sutcliffe also fundraised for Ottawa Salus and in the end, over $30,000 was raised for them! Since our fundraising efforts were so successful last year, I wanted Aylmer Run Crew to join the Desjardins Charity Challenge again this year with the hope that I can convince more people to join our fundraising team.  

Why is Aylmer Run Crew raising funds for Ottawa Salus? Do you or any of your other members have a connection to this charity?  

Ottawa Salus provides supportive housing, including mental health services, to adults living with severe and persistent mental health and substance use health challenges in Ottawa. Now more than ever, there is a critical need for stable housing and mental health support in our community. Salus’ vision is to provide stable housing for everyone. I have been working with Salus since 2019, and much of my day-to-day revolves around how to stabilize tenancies and help people live independently and successfully.  

However, in this field, there is always more work that can be done. If my running community and I have the opportunity to use our hobby as a means to spread the word about Salus, the communities that it helps to flourish independently and raise funds to support the 800+ clients that are served annually, then it’s a no-brainer. The Desjardins Charity Challenge is an amazing opportunity for us to be able to do just that! 

Can you share how you are going about raising funds? Does Aylmer Run Crew have a fundraising goal?

As training for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend ramps up, I will be updating potential donors on my training stats on a weekly basis (with pictures) and will be spreading the word about why I am supporting Salus through the Desjardins Charity Challenge. I will also be providing templates to members of the Aylmer Run Crew that choose to join the fundraising team to assist them in their fundraising efforts. I will also be advising people that if they raise more than $500 individually, then they are eligible for prizing! 

I would say our current goal is to raise $2,000 as a team, which may increase depending on how many members are participating this year. 

Do you have any tips or suggestions for other run clubs or teams who may be thinking of joining-, or are currently fundraising and participating in the Desjardins Charity Challenge? 

Some of my tips would be to stay engaged on social media, be consistent and intentional about the messages you put out there, inform people about the work that your charity of choice does and TALK to people about your fundraising goals and efforts. People are happy to see that you are progressing in your own training, but I think they are more interested in how they can help you achieve your own fundraising goals, whatever your reasons are. 

If you reach out to someone and you are clear and specific about what your needs are as a Desjardins Charity Challenge participant, then they know how they can help you. If you are vague in what you’re asking and how you’re communicating, then you are just giving them information with no direction or action needed on their part. 

How is your and your club’s training going for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend? 

I am looking forward to seeing our numbers increase as the weather gets warmer. I suspect more people will sign up to our team as they decide which event they want to train for at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. I was able to run my first marathon in 3:40:00 last year and for 2024, I am training to run the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon at a 3:20:00 pace. Last year, my training was purely distance-based and this year, I am focusing on an intentional training routine that I feel will definitely make my goal time achievable. 

One of my favourite things about running with Aylmer Run Crew is that I have noticed that everybody that has become a part of the crew has become a stronger runner and has successfully taken on new challenges (marathons, triathlons, etc.) with the positive environment and support of their crew behind them! 

You can show your support for Ottawa Salus and the Aylmer Run Crew’s fundraising team by making a donation. 

The Desjardins Charity Challenge is a way for you and your friends, family, team, or even your run crew to help support and develop much needed programs for those in need right in your community. Each donation helps to make a difference for your charity of choice. Join the Desjardins Charity Challenge today!