Caption: During the month of April, dozens of nurses, doctors and staff at Squamish General Hospital took part in a 30X30 challenge that pushes them to exercise 30 minutes a day for 30 days. They rasied more than $7,000 for local charities.
What began as a simple challenge among a small group of staff at Squamish General Hospital (SGH) to raise morale during a difficult time has grown into a way of giving back to a grateful community.
During the month of April, dozens of nurses, doctors and staff at the hospital took part in a 30X30 challenge that pushes them to exercise 30 minutes a day for 30 days. The one catch: it would cost $30 for each participant, with the funds raised going toward local charities.
For Holly O'Neill, the registered nurse who started and inspired her to colleagues to take the challenge, the interest by her coworkers and the community has been completely unexpected.
“There's been a lot amazing support and it brought a lot of us together in such a hard time," she said.
O'Neill explained she started the challenge because most of her coworkers are moms and they often forget to take care of themselves as they put everyone else first. She thought maybe 20 or so people would participate in what she called her "take care of YOU" challenge, but the number quickly swelled to 90.
By the end of the challenge, the group raised $7,355, with $7,000 being split between the Squamish Food Bank and the Squamish Women's Shelter and the remainder to Squamish Hospice Society. A separate five-kilometre run raised another $1,000 for the local hospice.
Initially O'Neill thought about getting a couple prizes together for the challenge because her partner owns 7mesh apparel. But once the number of participants started to rise, she reached out to other local businesses who were eager to help out. Dozens of Squamish businesses have donated small prizes to staff for the challenge.
“Truthfully, I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of the community," she said. The local businesses have graciously donated so many amazing prizes to support our challenge."
While April might be over, the challenge is not. O'Neill intends to keep the challenge going through the summer using different themes and charities in which to generate donations.
“The strength our SGH team has shown has been unbelievable," she said. “I believe this challenge has brought the SGH team closer together. They're supportive, they're encouraging, they're proud of each other's accomplishments and they've gotten to know one another. Most importantly, back to my goal of the challenge, the team is taking care of themselves during these hard and unpredictable times which has been unbelievable to watch."
The group at SGH isn't done giving back. O'Neill noted staff get so much support from the community that some felt uncomfortable about accepting food donations made to the hospital when other people have lost jobs and are struggling financially. So they decided to make a “food bank" envelope where they donate what they can for each meal they take.