This last Sunday, April 19th, kicked off what had been shaping up to be a promising season of Ovarian Cycle events taking place all over the country.
These events bring people together in high impact fitness classes — building community, honoring those facing ovarian cancer, remembering loved ones who have passed, raising awareness of the disease … and yes, raising much-needed funds. In fact, the Ovarian Cycle events, along with other individual or committee-based do-it-yourself initiatives, make up approximately 15% of OCRA’s yearly revenue.
So what happens when a pandemic comes along? Committee members get creative and the community finds new ways to rally.
Sara Polikov and Shana Stukalsky are co-chairs of the Atlanta Ovarian Cycle, who along with their committee of about a half dozen others, knew they had to make some changes.
“It just became very clear,” Shana said, “so we didn’t waste a lot of energy lamenting. We just got on board and shifted gears.”
Rather than have a four-hour workout attended by 70 riders who had committed to raising $500 each, they opened the event to anyone who wanted to tune in and participate through a Facebook livestream.
They had a great partner in Ashley Francis of TURN Studio whose enthusiasm was on full display, calling out encouragement to ‘attendees’ who posted a comment, even committing to donate a dollar for every burpee someone did on the floor of their family room.
“I was surprised how much fun it was to get online and work out,” said Sara.
Their efforts brought in more than $4,000 on that day alone (which is in addition to the nearly $36,000 raised prior to the event) despite sensitivities toward fundraising at a time when so many people are struggling financially.
While there’s no doubt that it can be disappointing to work for so many months toward something that has to change substantially, and perhaps bring in fewer donations than hoped for, there were some benefits to going virtual.
“People who normally donate toward my ride but don’t ride themselves came online and participated,” Shana said. “If 10 people that didn’t ride last year thought ‘cool, maybe I’ll participate next year!’ then that’s a great thing.”
Shana has been doing Ovarian Cycle since 2009, in memory of her grandmother who passed away from ovarian cancer. Her sister and mother have always been able to participate in the event, but her great aunt couldn’t.
“This year, she could be a part of it because of the streaming, and it’s in honor of her sister.”
Both Shana and Sara agreed that they learned from this and are thinking of ways to enhance the ride going forward, even when it can be an in-person event again. By continuing to broadcast it more widely, they can reach more people … and include the family members of those who they are riding in memory of.
There are still many opportunities to get involved this summer in whatever capacity you are able. Please visit the Ovarian Cycle website for upcoming virtual fitness events.
You can even share these livestreams on your own Facebook page and invite your friends and family. Every little bit helps, and we are eager to take advantage of the fact that everyone can participate – no matter your location, fitness level or stamina for fundraising. Because what unites all of us is a desire to see a world free from the pain of ovarian cancer.