Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Support at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

As violence in Ukraine erupted and shocked the world this year, concerned citizens sought ways to support the humanitarian efforts to resettle and support refugees.

Through the contributions of Run Ottawa, the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal fundraising teams, Canadians Sharing Locally and Globally, and now the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, there is a strong effort to send meaningful support to the displaced persons affected by ongoing violence in Ukraine. 

John and Cathy Wenuk, founders of Canadians Sharing Locally and Globally, have directed the disaster relief portion of their funding towards Ukrainian relief and will be running the Ottawa 10K presented by Otto’s Ottawa to raise their goal of $50,000 to match $50,000 already committed as a matched gift. “As a Canadian, the war in Ukraine has really shocked me. I never thought that I would see such destruction in a modern European nation in my lifetime. In addition, I have a Ukrainian background. My grandfather emigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 1905 and eventually settled in Winnipeg. I have felt deeply connected watching the videos, seeing pictures and hearing the news.” 

The Wenuks are grateful for the opportunity to work through the Canadian Red Cross and are really looking forward to Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend with all of the celebration and energy it brings to Ottawa. 

Ottawa resident Tegan Chappell, representing both Otto’s Ottawa Power Crew and Xtra Mile Crew, approached the organizers of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend to coordinate a fundraising team for the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal in the Desjardins Charity Challenge. The Canadian Red Cross support includes preparedness, immediate and ongoing relief efforts, long-term recovery, resiliency, and other critical humanitarian activities as needs arise, both in Ukraine and surrounding countries, including supporting populations displaced.

Quickly, connections were made and Chappell was raising funds and encouraging others to do the same. 

Green Bib participants at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend diverted a portion of their registration fees to the campaign in lieu of a medal. Proceeds of Run for Ukraine bibSNAPSS sold at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross through the Desjardins Charity Challenge. And Run Ottawa’s Saturday 5K and 1K run on May 8 raised over $3,000 for the fundraising initiative.

Chappell quickly surpassed her goal of $2,500 and welcomes further gifts for the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. Several teams have started fundraising since the Desjardins Charity Challenge page was set up. “I had to do something, I felt called to support the Humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. My network isn’t huge, but I was able to rally social media and run clubs and friends. I am very touched by their support. Chappell’s military experience and training as a combat engineer sensitized her to the impact of war, and credits this as part of the motivation to rally others. “I am from Saskatchewan where there is a large Ukraine diaspora who settled there. There was a strong Ukrainian community, influence and connection in the small town I grew up in.” 

Chappell shares that she has always been an active person who wanted to do a very physically demanding job, “so I started lifting weights with the goal of achieving a high degree of fitness but a collision with a car while cycling resulted in most sports being halted and limiting some career options. It took 7 years of rehab to get to a 5K. Physiotherapists and doctors said I had plateaued athletically and to stop there. I was motivated by this limitation and pushed to 10K, then a half, then three years later I completed my first marathon.” Chappell’s drive comes from the energy she gains by connecting with her passions and her belief in a worldview, “if everyone tried to leave this planet better than they found it, we can make something beautiful.” 

Chappell is running the Ottawa Half Marathon presented by Desjardins this year. Championing the Xtra Mile Crew and Otto’s Ottawa Power Crew and celebrating her body being as strong as ever post accident. Chappell is recovering from a difficult COVID-19 infection. “The focus isn’t the speed for this race, but rather it is the return to holistic health—eating, sleeping, having fun, and sharing the joy of running. I am getting back to it. I like to approach running from all angles.”

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