We’ve just wrapped up year number one for Valley Life Recreation (VLR) since rebranding from Minnedosa Rivers Edge Recreation Park. While the pandemic has posed many challenges, it has prompted many to seek recreational opportunities outdoors. This has aided our organization as many funding opportunities are directed toward outdoor projects to promote healthy lifestyles.
VLR spent the first half of the year planning out a large-scale trail park project and then on July 12, 2021, publicly announced plans for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park. VLR had an aggressive goal to raise $300,000 before the end of the year for the park. We came very close to that goal, raising over $250,000 (mostly in the last half of the year).
VLR’s first major supporters were the Town of Minnedosa, the R.M. of Minto-Odanah and the Heritage CO-OP Community Fund. Following the public announcement of the trail park plans, VLR received generous funding commitments from Sunrise Credit Union, Minnedosa & District Foundation, Brandon Area Community Foundation, the Thomas Sill Foundation, Nutrien Ag Solutions, as well as numerous other personal and business donations up to $5,000. The full listing of $1000+ donors can be found at the VLR website. Fundraisers were also held including the Ultimate Summer Party at Splish Splash Waterpark, successful calendar sales, Ride Like Ole and the recently launched Outdoors For Everyone lottery.
On July 12, 2021, VLR received the tragic news of the passing of Ole Heie on the very same day the trail park plans were publicly announced. Ole Heie, son of Rob & Leigh (Usick – of Minnedosa) Heie suddenly passed away while out on a trail run. Ole was an extraordinary athlete who inspired many of our Board members. He was an avid cross-country skier, mountain biker and trail runner. After hearing from Ole’s grandmother Gwen, VLR and Ole’s family developed a plan to honour Ole in the coming Squirrel Hills Trails Park. From that, a special fundraising ride was planned for August 21, 2021. Board members Dave Ternier, Paul Archbutt, Richard Dupuis and Tim Frykoda mountain biked 172km west to east through Riding Mountain National Park along with Ole’s parents Rob & Leigh and friend of the Board, Kevin Earl. The goal was to raise $100 per kilometre ridden ($17,200). The fundraising goal was far exceeded and came in just under $30,000. It was a brutal ride only made possible knowing that Ole would have done it as a pre-race warm up!
The Outdoors For Everyone lottery was launched in late 2021 with the intention of giving away $20,000 in vouchers for spending at Stream N Wood and A&L Cycle (two $8,000 and four $1,000 vouchers). This lottery campaign was made possible with generous support from Stream N Wood and A & L Cycle as each sponsored $5,000 toward the Squirrel Hills Trail Park. Congratulations to the recently announced lottery winners.
The VLR Board has been astounded with the local support we have received over the last few months. Feeling the support continues to motivate the volunteers leading VLR and they are thrilled for the year ahead. At the time of writing, the VLR Board is awaiting responses to $400,825 in grant applications currently submitted to various agencies. Provided first quarter 2022 funding goals are met, construction of the Squirrel Hills Trail Park continues to be on track for later this year. For those not familiar with the project, the plans may be viewed online.
Paul Archbutt; Vice Chair/Finance Chair
Dave Ternier; Board Chair
Dominique Hampton; Secretary
This report was originally prepared for and shared at the VLR Annual General Meeting on February 24, 2022. Read the Fundraising Report for 2021 here.