Above image: Members of HMCS VILLE DE QUEBEC participate in a 24 hour Bike-A-Thon in support of the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, October 24, 2020, where in total, crewmembers rode 4342.4 km on stationary bikes and raised $5113.00.
Raising over $5,000 for the Government of Canada’s Workplace Charitable Campaign initiative, 147 HMCS Ville de Quebec crew members participated in a 24-hour bike-a-thon.
With six teams participating, one from each of the ship’s department, participants took turns riding stationary bikes as part of ship-wide fundraising 24-hour bike-a-thon explained SLt Shannon O’Reilly, Phase VI Marine Systems Engineering Officer, HMCS Ville de Quebec.
The teams split up the 24 hours as they saw fit, with some teams taking hour-long shifts, others tag-teaming the hours with 15-minute sprints.
Over the course of 24 hours, in total, participants peddled 4342.4 km, roughly the equivalent of crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Not only did they peddle a great distance, but the crew members also raised $5113.
While only one team, the Combat Systems Engineering department, was crowned the winner, the ship’s company had a fun day raising money for charity while getting in some exercise, all while in friendly competition with their shipmates.
Before COVID-19, sailing for extended periods of time and maintaining crew morale was already a difficult task, noted SLt O’Reilly.”Frustrations build up and people need a break from each other and the ship. They need to reset themselves.”
She says this is usually resolved by the places the navy visits, which provide personnel with an outlet to have a physical and mental break from each other and the ship. In addition to port visits, morale-boosting activities have always occurred to keep the crew motivated while sailing for long durations at sea.
“With the new COVID-19 environment, we’re sailing without port visits and confined to a 124m length ship with the same people for sometimes the same time period as before but with no port visits so no “reset buttons”. Due to this, extra care has to be given to planning events at sea and alongside to help the crew in maintaining good morale,” says SLt O’Reilly.
SLt O’Reilly and SLt Alisha McCafferty were approached by their executive officer (XO) LCdr Bain to organize a physical fitness event for the ship. Together, they came up with the idea of a 24-hour bike-a-thon to occur during their return home from the Joint Warrior Exercise.
The duo also decided to make it into a fundraising event for the NDWCC. The bike-a-thon took place on October 24, 2020.
“We planned it for the hangar with six bikes set up: one per department. Closer to the day of the event, we were informed the ship would be taking a detour down south where the weather was beautiful,” she mentioned.
Since the weather was on their side, they held the event on the flight deck. Each department had a representative to put together a team (as large as they wanted) and raise money within their respective departments.
The end prize was a day of Sunday Routine for the winning department.
To win the event, a team needed to have the most points. Points were tallied by the number of funds raised and the distance a team biked. The CSE department excelled in both categories. Thus they took the top spot. It ended up being a huge success, says O’Reilly.
By remaining onboard during port visits and not interacting with any shore staff, the crews maintained that status throughout the sail, which totalled five weeks COVID-free, making the charity bike-a-thon on the flight deck and in the hangar possible. It also allowed crew members to be there to offer support for their comrades.