Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why I Give to OBC: Brandon

Brandon did double duty in early October of 2015 – he pushed himself by taking part in a challenging race across the Northern Ontario wilderness, and as part of the same event, led his team in raising an impressive $4,200 in support of Outward Bound Canada’s life-changing charitable programs for vulnerable individuals. “We were willing to push ourselves to the limit,” says Brandon, “for the desire to test ourselves, to feel ‘human’ again outdoors, and to escape, for a moment, this highly digital, urban world.” Brandon and his team Muck Dynasty took part in last year’s Wilderness Traverse, a 24-hour race through 150 kilometres of unforgettable Canadian Shield on foot, mountain bike and canoe.

Here’s why Brandon decided to take part in OBC’s Challenge Events:

“When I first heard of Outward Bound Canada’s charitable programs from my friend Bo, I was immediately struck, thinking, ‘wow, I am 100% on-board with what they are trying to accomplish here and they way they go about to do it.’ My second thought was how could I realistically help them? 

This was back in 2014, when two buddies and I, very naively decided to compete in our first ever adventure race. I say naively, because in the adventure race world we decided to enter into the Ironman equivalent of Adventure Races, the Wilderness Traverse, without ever trying some of the smaller, shorter races first. For context, the traverse is a 24-hour, 150-km race in the bush of the Parry Sound District, using only map and compass. 

I have been a lover of the outdoors throughout my whole life, attending Kilcoo Camp in Minden for most of my childhood and taking outdoor leadership courses in high school, but this was an incredible and daunting challenge. 
It became very apparent after I signed up for this race and learned of OBC’s charitable programs, that there was a clear connection there. 

We were willing to push ourselves to the limit, for the desire to test ourselves, to feel ‘human’ again outdoors and to escape for a moment this highly digital, urban world. (Disclosure: I use #hashtags and shamelessly post on Instagram.)

This kind of test, once attempted, has incredible psychological powers that can provide confidence and significant mental strength to any individual. It is pretty simple in my mind, ‘if you can accomplish a 24-hour adventure race, why can’t you achieve that promotion at work or why can’t you build your own company?’ 

OBC’s charitable programs for at-risk youth, women of courage and veterans are fully aligned with this idea. To put people who have gone through significant challenges through outdoor experiences that tests them, pushes them but then ultimately builds them up again and creates a sense of empowerment. 

Realizing this natural fit, my teammates and I, Muck Dynasty as we are called, decided to fundraise for OBC’s charitable programs. While we didn’t finish the adventure race that year (rattlesnakes, owls and torrential rain were formidable obstacles), we were successful in fundraising a few thousands dollars for OBC. 

This past fall, after a full year of licking our wounds and putting in months of hard training, we managed to finish the Wilderness Traverse, and almost doubled our fundraising results. 

At the end of this year’s race the beer in our newly achieved Wilderness Traverse finisher mugs tasted pretty sweet; however, it was even sweeter knowing we finished this race not only for our own achievement but to help others who have had some bad luck get back on their feet.”

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