Betty Donahue (left), Ann Smith and Darcy Lazzarin have been enthusiastic and long-time participants in Big Brothers Big Sisters Tour de Cariboo, an event cancelled this year due to wildfires. Rick Magnell photo

Wildfires cancel Tour de Cariboo fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake

BBBS Williams Lake is operated entirely on donations and local fundraising events

The 25th annual Tour de Cariboo fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Williams Lake has been cancelled this year in light of the current wildfire situation, reports executive director Melissa Newberry.

With the community in a state of crises, it didn’t seem appropriate to hold a pledge-driven event, Newberry said.

“The wildfire activity has had a huge impact, and we didn’t feel it was fair to ask participants to request pledges,” she explained. “People have other priorities right now.”

Another reason for the cancellation is the health risk from the smoke.

“Williams Lake and surrounding communities will have smoke until late fall, and we can’t expect people to ride 75 kilometres in that kind of air quality,” she added. “And it’s very unpredictable.”

This was not a decision made easily.

“It makes me sad – people really look forward to it. It’s a true achievement, as well as a popular community event,” she continued. “It’s also has a big budget impact for us, and the cancellation creates concerns.

“This would have been the 25th ride, and in all these years it’s never been cancelled.”

She explained that in 2018 the board will make a decision on how they’re going to manage Big Brothers Big Sisters’ fundraising for that year.

“We’ll have a clearer picture by then of what’s to come, and that includes any future for Tour de Cariboo,” she said.

She added that Big Brothers Big Sisters in Williams Lake receives no core funding from head office, and that every dollar for running their programs is raised locally.

Their Big Night Out event in February, and Bowl For Kids Sake in April will run as planned, and they’re looking at changing the Big Squeeze – running it late in the fall and doing a hot chocolate fundraiser.

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Williams Lake is gratefully accepting donations to keep their programs running.

People can visit www.bbswlake.com to donate to the ongoing success of those programs.

“We deal with a vulnerable sector of the population, and those are the first people affected by a natural disaster like this,” she said.

“As an agency, we want to make sure we’re helping all the kids we can through the programs we offer.”

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters in Williams Lake, phone 250-398-8391 or visit their website.

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