A win for Wakefield – Personal development course turned into fundraiser, business
Ottawa Citizen, by Martin Cleary, January 14, 2014
What was intended to be a personal development course project for one person has exploded into an eye-opening experience for a small Quebec community. When lifelong Wakefield resident Dayne Chicoine registered for a self discovery course in 2011 through Landmark Education, she wanted to step away from her comfort zone. The main project was to include 20 or more people and involve her community.
What a learning experience it has been for the manager of Billy’s Deli and Pizzeria, a family-style restaurant on the main street, and an alpine ski coach at Ski Vorlage.
In three months, Chicoine, 25, scrambled to produce a successful project called the Wakefield Covered Bridge Run. Then, she watched it grow into an event management company called Aegle Events, with three different sports competitions in three different seasons over the last three years.
What makes it even more interesting is all three competitions are centred in the small village and the proceeds from all three are returned to community groups.
Since 2011, Aegle Events has raised $42,000 for the Wakefield Recreation Association’s hockey pad project, the Wakefield Emergency Fund and the Wakefield Grannies, who financially assist women in South Africa who are caring for AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.
“I wanted to create a run,” Chicoine said of her project, which was aided by volunteer Shelley Crabtree and raised $10,000 towards the ice pad campaign. “In three months, I planned and created it from A to Z and had 300 runners. I went door to door to raise funds (for T-shirts, timing costs, race expenses). The community supported me 100 per cent.
“I wasn’t going to time it, just have a timeless fun run. But someone said I should call Sportstats. Their main people helped me. I slowly got guided in the right direction.”
After the second Wakefield Covered Bridge Run in 2012 (438 runners), Chicoine realised “we have something here and need to do something.” She created a for-profit business and set “a huge social mandate, with proceeds to local and global projects” as well as encouraging health and wellness. Nathalie Poirier became the third woman of the Aegle Events team and was recognized as the creative talent.
In a post-race meeting, Poirier, who has since left the company, had the idea for an evening run along the Gatineau River. On a cloudless Sept. 29 night in 2012, an energetic field of 330 competed in the Moonlight River Run.
As a for-profit organisation, Chicoine isn’t looking to expand Aegle Events’ race agenda just yet.
“We have three events and we want to focus on growing them to maximum potential. It’s better to keep the focus narrow and grow. I don’t want to saturate the community,” said Chicoine, who would like to see the Wakefield Covered Bridge Run reach 1,000 participants in May and 2,000 in the future.
Chicoine never thought her project would develop into a small success story. “I’m really amazed how much money we can raise,” she said. “I put my head down and focused on creating an awesome event. I’m proud of where it’s at. I’ve had a very positive response from Wakefield.”