As this event celebrates its’ 50th anniversary this year I remember past Walkathons including fun on the trails, blisters when we were young and fashion conscious instead of smart about appropriate footwear, and how fabulous a hot dog can taste when you’re tired and hungry at the end of the day! My best memories of the walkathon are events from the 1980’s shared with family and friends. This was usually a day spent with my nieces and nephews as they were growing up – an annual event that we could all participate in together. The kids were involved in a variety of volunteer activities with Aunty Heather as they were growing up – now they have young children of their own who are also learning about contributing to their school and their community through volunteer and fundraising efforts.
Traditions associated with the RIKI Walkathon are something to take pride in – everyone can make a difference and this is one example where people of all ages and abilities can participate in an event that supports an active lifestyle and inclusion. My congratulations and appreciation to the organizers and participants in the 50th anniversary event!- Heather Rasmussen, SaskAbilities
Al Anderson Participated in the first RIKI Walkathon in 1968 and was part of the Kiwanis Club of Riversdale when they committed to building a cabin at Camp Easter Seal. At the time, there was a need for new cabins at Camp Easter Seal. And where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d raise enough money to build five! No one anticipated that kind of response."
Camp Easter Seal is close to his heart and his family.
“It’s natural for me to support Camp Easter Seal. My wife is from Watrous so I’ve spent many hours on the shores of Manitou Beach and volunteering at Camp Easter Seal. My children worked there for many years. It’s very much part of our family."
It’s been a pleasure for him and his family to help build the community. Some great memories and moments have been shared in the comradery of building something for the next generation. - Al Anderson, Founding charter member of the Kiwanis Club of Riversdale when it was formed in 1962.
As a young boy 3 days before my 10th birthday I would participate in an event that years later would have far reaching connections.
I’m proud to say that I took part in that original 22 mile, (not kilometers), walk with a friend of mine from the starting point at Riversdale Pool to Pike Lake on a wet soggy rainy day in the spring of 1968 to raise funds for a camp I knew very little of. After many hours of trudging in the rain we finally made it to our goal, “To make it all the way to Pike Lake” without giving up. All participants that made the trek were given a patch as a token of their appreciation with two worn out boots with holes in the soles on it depicting the event.
Rain soaked and tired, some of us were fortunate to obtain a ride back to Saskatoon in one of the many supplied buses and upon arriving back at Riversdale Pool my friend Rob called his brother and he picked us up in a 1953 Chev covered in Pierre Elliot Trudeau bumper stickers.
Many many years later I became a member of the Draggins Rod and Custom Car Club, (who have also been donating to camp since 1968), and upon my first outing to Camp was given a tour by one of the Draggins members telling me of all the history of the buildings, their function and reading the plaques on each cabin or building in awe of the people and businesses that have contributed to such a place for people of all ages with disabilities can call home for awhile.
To my amazement I came upon the engraved wooden sign that depicted the Riki Walkathon from 1968 that raised $41,000 to build a new additional cabin for the campers.
While I was standing there reading the sign my wife walked up with a group of the ladies that were giving her a tour and she said, “Hey, I was on that walkathon”.
Who knew that two nine year old’s would meet later in life, get married, belong to a car club, and have a connection to Camp Easter Seal reaching back 50 years?
Wayne & Janet Pegg
Alumni Members of the First Riki Walkathon ‘68
Thank you from SaskAbilities
For those who have had the opportunity to see Camp Easter Seal for themselves, it is clear the Riversdale Kiwanis Club has made an incredible impact.
From building five cabins to purchasing accessible equipment to covering camp fees for campers –almost every corner of Camp has benefited in some way or another because of the Kiwanis Club of Riversdale.
For those who haven’t yet been acquainted with Camp Easter Seal, it is the only completely wheelchair-accessible camp of its kind in Saskatchewan. Every activity is adapted to meet the needs of each individual camper, so nothing holds them back from experiencing the wonders of the world around them. In this environment, disabilities cease to exist.
Children remove the word ‘can’t’ from their vocabulary, build their self-esteem, and increase their independence. Often campers return home with a big smile and greater self-confidence than ever before. Making the impossible possible – that’s what Camp does every summer!
Each year over 800 people with disabilities wait for their chance to attend Camp Easter Seal. Located on the picturesque shores of Manitou Beach near Watrous, who could blame them!
It’s a place where campers forget their worries and daily challenges and just have fun. For some, it’s the only camp they can attend safely. And for others, it’s a completely life-changing experience!
It typically costs $1,500 to support one person for a week at Camp Easter Seal. Families impacted by disability are already financially burdened enough, so we decided in 1954 when we opened Camp Easter Seal that it would be offered FREE to the public.
Generous support from partners, sponsors and donors are what make this possible year after year. One of which is our remarkable partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Riversdale. For 50 years, the Club has supported Camp Easter Seal in whatever it has needed. We’re proud of the longevity of this partnership and the lives we’ve changed together because of it.
Thank you for making it possible to celebrate decades of making magical memories for children, youth and adults experiencing disability at Camp Easter Seal.
The 50th Anniversary of the RIKI Walkathon is going to be an event to remember. I hope you’ll join us as we honour the tremendous impact it has made in thousands of lives – and for generations to come.