Its not every day you see a group of young people running down the main drag of small-town Manitoba with a bed in tow.
Local residents in towns throughout southern Manitoba may have witnessed a peculiar sight recently as agriculture students from the University of Manitoba got together for their annual Aggie Bed Push fundraiser.
The event was held on September 30 and October 1 and visited Oakville, Elm Creek, Treherne and Boissevain on the Friday and then Minnedosa, Neepawa, Gladstone and Portage on the Saturday.
“We try to go to participants’ hometowns, because then we just have that little bit more of connection with the town,” said Courtney Boyachek, charity representative with the Faculty of Agriculture Students Organization (FASO) at the University of Manitoba.
The event has been held for the past 35 years and every year the group pulls out its burgundy steel bed to raise funds and awareness for a select charity.
Prior to the event, FASO votes on which charity it would like to support. This year, students selected Manitoba Farmers with Disabilities (MFWD).
“Courtney and I brought forward a few different charities and then the students within FASO voted on what we felt was important and that is how we eventually came to MFWD,” said Morgan McCormick, fellow charity representative with FASO.
“We didn’t necessarily have a personal connection to MFWD but we wanted to make sure the charity we picked was something related to the ag industry.”
It was actually the parents of students who suggested MFWD.
“We looked into the organization and definitely saw that it was a worthy cause that has an impact on the industry,” McCormick said.
MFWD is a non-profit organization that is committed to the promotion of the health, safety and wellness in farming communities across the province.
“We are a support group for farmers who have been injured, for themselves and their families,” said Dawn Minne, MFWD chair. “When this group was started in 1989, several farmers had been injured and they were just looking for someone to talk to. A lot of these individuals were arm amputees and so there was a lot of discussion around how to continue farming and what kind of adjustments can be made and how can our families get through this as well.”
MFWD was formally organized in 1997, and the group’s goal is to reduce and prevent agriculture injuries and fatalities through increased farm safety education and knowledge of safe farming practices.
“I think MFWD is a great organization, especially for the work that it does with kids and within the schools because farm safety is a huge issue and sometimes gets overlooked a little bit. Especially on the farm when things get busy, so it is good to make everyone aware that you can’t just put it on the back burner,” McCormick said. “You have to always have in your mind how important it is to be careful when you are working on the farm and around equipment.”
Minne says MFWD was thrilled to receive donations from the FASO event, but was also happy just to be thought of by the students.
“It just makes you feel good that we were important enough in their eyes to make us their focus. They are our future farmers and so to see that they hold safety as an important issue is a great thing,” Minne said. “And it’s not just about the funds but also spreading our message. When someone is injured on the farm it can become a very stressful situation for everyone. We want people to know that we understand what they are going through and we are here to provide comfort and support in whatever way we can.”
FASO’s bed push event has raised just over $9,000 for MFWD and the student group will continue to accept donations until November 15.
“It is just phenomenal the amount that they were able to raise. It is rather astounding,” Minne said. “It was also really fun to be there with them and see their enthusiasm.”
For more information or to make a donation visit, www.MFWD.ca.