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Hustlin' for a good cause

The annual Run for Ronald McDonald House held in Cold Lake is going virtual this year, with a province-wide Hustle for the House. File photo.

COLD LAKE – Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta are putting a twist on their annual run this year, with the first ever virtual Hustle for the House.

The annual Run for Ronald McDonald House, which previously saw hundreds gather in Cold Lake to pull up the iconic red and white striped socks and run through the city, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

“With everything happening with COVID-19, the restrictions on physical gatherings, and, of course, our fear and wanting to keep our volunteers as healthy as possible, we thought we should probably get rid of our physical events this year,” detailed Oreen Skiba, stakeholder relations manager for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta (RMHCNA) Lakeland region.

The virtual Hustle for the House encourages everyone from across the province to lace up their shoes and set their run route, allowing people to practice social distancing while still raising much-needed funds for Ronald McDonald House Alberta (RMHA).

“RMHA services families in 194 communities, so this really gives us an opportunity to go into those communities that have been touched by the Ronald McDonald House,” Skiba expressed.

In the Lakeland alone, over 150 families have utilized the Edmonton house and have stayed over 1,400 nights in the last two years.

Although the coronavirus is causing some difficulties, the Ronald McDonald House is determined to assist families when they need it most.

“We’re still focused on that family-centred care, providing families with accommodations and meals. If we’re not able to put them up at the house, we’re helping them get aligned with some of our partner hotels and so the work we’re doing is very critical. The Ronald McDonald House isn’t a nice-to-have with these families, it’s a must-have,” Skiba stated.

The Hustle for the House is open to anyone interested in participating. So far, roughly 450 participants have signed up. The goal is to have 1,500 people join from across Alberta.

“You can choose any distance you want to do, you can walk or run it in your neighbourhood, you can go out to the park, go on a treadmill, whatever and however you feel most comfortable,” noted Skiba.

The Cold Lake event last year saw roughly 700 participants running or walking to support the cause, which Skiba described as “amazing.”

“It’s definitely something I think the community is craving, and we’re hoping that with everybody staying healthy, trying to be outdoors as much as they can be even without the social event, we’re hoping it will still be a success.”

While this wasn’t an ideal situation, Skiba said it has created the possibility of offering a virtual option for people in the future.

“In coming years, we do plan on bringing back the physical component but maybe what we’ll do is we’ll also have a virtual one for the week leading up to it so schools can participate in gym classes and if people are feeling tentative about getting together in those larger groups, they can still do it on their own but then celebrating at the end of the week with a physical location, for sure here in the Lakeland and Calgary,” she explained.

Registration for Hustle for the House is open online at until July 6, and those who enter before May 25 will receive a T-shirt in the mail. Participants are encouraged to do their walk or run between July 6 and 12.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle