United Way kicks off campaign
The Brantford Harlequins flexed their muscles and Nathan Manners flashed his smile in support of Brant United Way on Saturday.
They were just a couple of the participants in the first-ever antique fire truck pull held at the civic centre. The event was held to announce the fundraising goal of this year’s campaign - $1.7 million - and raise awareness of the importance of Brant United Way.
The Harlequins Rugby squad literally ran away with the title, pulling the fire truck 100 feet in just over 14 seconds. The truck was filled with water and weighed an estimated 17,000 pounds.
But while the Harlequins were clearly the stronger team, they had a bit of a scare at the start of their first big pull.
Try as they might, they couldn’t get the truck to budge.
Turns out someone decided to apply the parking brake to make the competition a bit tougher for the athletes. When the chicanery was revealed the Harlequins took off and were beyond compare.
Manners, meanwhile, was in his glory.
The Brantford resident, who has cerebral palsy, is an honorary Brantford firefighter and was in the lead position when the firefighter team gave it their all to challenge the Harlequins. The firefighters came up short but that didn’t bother Manners.
Asked about the experience, Manners, who uses a wheelchair and is non-verbal, flashed a smile and gave a big Don Cherry-style thumbs up.
When asked if he was responsible for the parking brake prank, Manners smiled again.
The event attracted several teams and included other family-oriented activities as Brant United Way officials began their effort to collect much-need funds for a numerous local organizations. Agencies and organizations supported by Brant United Way provide a range of important services to the community.
“This event is something new for us,” said United Way representative Sherry Haines. “But it’s a fun event that brings out a lot of people and it’s a great way to get things started.
“This is the first year that we’ve held a kick-off event that actually raised money for the campaign.”
The fire truck pull was the idea of Bob Sproul, this year’s campaign chair who is a fire prevention officer for the Brantford Fire Department. The event was expected to raise at least $3,500.
The 2016 campaign raised $1,652,000, just short of its target of $1,675,000. However, last year’s campaign had to make up $147,000 that was lost when funds from Hockey Night in Brantford went to other local charities. Money from the hockey event had been used in the past to support Brant United Way.
The 2016 campaign was also hindered by the loss of funds from a couple of companies that had previously supported Brant United Way.
“It’s true that we had a difficult start but what a lot of people might not realize is that we had a good campaign last year and were able to close the gap,” Haines said. “We managed to make up about $127,000 of that money and now we’re looking for ways to get rid of it all together.
“We’ve got everyone pulling together and we’re heading in the right direction,” she said.