After her dad, John, died from COVID last year, local trainer Katie Wilmshurst wanted to organize a fun event to honour him and donate the funds to his favourite charity.
Wilmshurst is from the UK, where here entire family still lives. She was unable to be with them when John died.
“It’s been hard for me living so far away in Canada but I’ve been so fortunate to have a great team through my fitness business. They have truly supported me through the hardest time of my life,” she said.
Wilmshurst decided to run an outdoor fitness class through her business, UK Fitness, which she has run in Muskoka for over 10 years. She offered fun prizes and donated the money earned from the class to Wooden Spoon, a charity that was always close to her dad’s heart.
Rugby was John’s favourite sport and his local club had often worked on projects with Wooden Spoon.
The UK-based rugby charity uses rugby resources and connections to raise money for vulnerable children, often through fitness projects, “to positively transform the lives of children and young people with disabilities or facing disadvantage through the power of the rugby network and connections.” Funds raised often go towards sensory rooms, playground and outdoor activities, health and wellbeing, and specialist equipment.
Due to the pandemic, Wilmshurst had to transition to online classes, but with restrictions easing she thought it would be the perfect time to hold an in-person, outdoor class in memory of her dad.
“Everybody was so amazing. My team has really been there for me through this difficult time. Being so far away it was hard and everyone in the community was so supportive,” she said. “It made me really happy to do something in my dad’s memory. It will help me moving forward with my grief. I wanted to honour him. He would be so delighted with me and my team and what we did.”
The event was held at Tawingo’s waterfront and Tall Trees, Soapstones, and Robinson’s General Store donated prizes for the participants.
The women all wore matching hoodies that Wilmshurst had designed for the event.
Each participant paid $20 to join the class; some who couldn’t make it still donated an entry fee toward the cause. Together they raised $700 for Wooden Spoon.
“I know he would be so proud of all of us,” said Wilmshurst. “When you lose someone you love it’s so nice to be able to do something in their honour once you are ready. I know my dad and he would want me to help to continue support the charity that he loved so much.”
Wilmshurst hopes to run a bigger fundraiser next year.
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