Meshing virtual care and fundraising events

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We believe that our events should be educational tools that benefit our participants both physically and socially. This year, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation took a new approach with its events blending both core funding priorities with prevention and virtual wellness. This new innovative approach is intended to benefit the Foundation but also to provide guidance to our participants who make conscious decisions in the ways they manage their heart health. We believe that events can do much more than simply raise money: by incorporating health promotion, they can encourage participants to make proactive changes in their lives.

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Last April, we launched the “All About Heart Virtual 5 km.” What is it? Participants were required to do a 5 km walk/run/jog at their own place, pace and time throughout the month of June.  They were also asked to take a “selfie” or a picture of their 5 km route that they would post on social media to entice others to do the challenge. Those who completed the challenge were rewarded with a medal at the end of their 5 km.

The event was different in many ways: this run didn’t force participants to compete for the best time and there wasn’t a finish line. Rather, the participants were virtually united under a common cause.  The challenge did more than raise money. It forced its participants to make a conscious effort to be active. Inactivity is not good for the heart yet statistics show that 52.5 per cent of women and 46.5 per cent of men were considered physically inactive in 2007. Studies demonstrate that even small steps every day are good for the heart.

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The Foundation partnered with Good Guys Tri on this project to help reach a greater audience. The Foundation was poised to have 339 participants from all over the world. Participants in BC, France and even as far as Gambia sent in their pictures. It raised $36,452.24 with the money going towards funding priorities.

Our upcoming event, the 3rd Annual Medtronic Heart & Sole event on September 23, 2014, will also provide participants with a beneficial health component to their participation. The first hundred participants will receive a complimentary Fitbit activity tracker and will be enrolled in a virtual care program through the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre. The Virtual Care Program is a unique and innovative way to manage your heart’s health. It’s an online interactive communication portal that lets you set goals, track your progress and ask a health coach questions in real-time! The program will allow participants to learn more about their risk for cardiovascular disease, manage their risk factors and receive personalized recommendations for practicing better lifestyle habits.

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Every event has the potential to not only benefit the Heart Institute financially but provide every participant with corresponding benefits to their overall well-being. The Foundation will be hosting more events of this kind and encourages everyone to visit its event calendar foundation.ottawaheart.ca/events.