A little friendly competition was at the heart of a fundraising effort for Elmira District Community Living (EDCL), with a local family literally running to meet the challenge.
Geoff Demeuleneare has been a member at CrossFit Elmira since last year. His brother Greg Demeuleneare and brother-in-law Brock Zinken joined him in January, igniting a competitive spirit. With the normal training schedule on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, the three were looking for another outlet.
“When COVID hit, a lot of the workout halted, and running was something that we all kind of had to get into,” said Geoff of the shift to another form of cardiovascular workout.
When he posed a time of 55 minutes for a 10-km run, his brother and brother-in-law decided they could easily best that number.
“The two of us whippersnappers decided to get on his case,” joked Zinken, noting both he and Greg decided they would team up to race Geoff. Things seemed to be going well until they discovered how their competitor was training.
“We were confident and then until we saw Geoff was running around town with an 82-pound garden gnome in his backpack, and then we became less confident,” said Zinken, adding the goal then shifted to aiming to beat a time of 53 minutes.
“Obviously there’s lots of conflict, natural competition and stuff, too, right. And that’s what kind of what started off as a bunch of banter back and forth turned into this little challenge. And it actually started off as a as a smaller challenge. And then we figured if we were going to do something, we might as well try to bring some benefit to the community,” explained Greg of how the fundraising effort came about.
The three decided to raise money for EDCL, an organization with which Greg has worked closely in the past. The funds were raised through a GoFundMe page in a campaign entitled ‘Fundraiser for Elmira Community Living’ in which they explained the circumstances of the friendly competition.
The path was a 5K route Geoff would run twice while Greg and Brock each did one lap.Some 20 people showed up to support the run on June 6, with social distancing in effect. Signs were also placed along the route to share encouragement, and people offered the runners water throughout their trek.
The three solicited donations, matching the first $1,000 with their own money, raising a total of $3,095. All three posted personal-best times for the distance, with Geoff besting the other two and claiming bragging rights.
The money was earmarked for EDCL’s bid to rebuild a group home in Elmira destroyed by fire last month. Damage was pegged at $600,000.
EDCL’s Cheryl Peterson welcomed the donation.
“It’s a representation of how this community does support [each other]. It is such an amazing community,” she said. “I’ve been working here for 30 years – I’m always in awe and I am never surprised when something like this happens. We are using the money for the reconstruction of the house and special equipment.”
There’s also another fundraising page opened on the Canada Helps website, where donations now total $9,000.