Boogie the Bridge turns 25 this year and organizers are hoping for a larger sea of red as the community event seeks to gain traction in the second year back after a pandemic-induced two-year break.
Founder Jo Berry said her Boogie team is working on increasing the number of participants and growing the sponsor list so the popular spring run/walk can continue to spread its message that movement is change.
And spreading that message is a massive undertaking.
“This wonderful community comes out and they are so great, but they don’t necessarily understand the calibre of the event the amount of effort, first of all from our team and sponsors and community partners, but also expenses, like how much it costs to put on a top-drawer event,” Berry said.
In normal times, each year’s expenses could be covered by revenue (registration fees, corporate sponsors, donations and in-kind aid from media outlets), but the two-year pandemic-related pause has impacted the bottom line.
Berry said organizers were forced to use contingency funds to get Boogie moving again last year.
With expenses up due to inflation and sponsorship dollars down, organizers are hoping for a strong turnout and a rebound in sponsorship and donation tallies to help stabilize the event going forward.
Berry said planning each year’s Boogie is a 10-month effort by volunteers who care about the community.
“Our team has not missed a beat. They need to be recognized as just incredible,” Berry said.
“But we need help from the community and we need more sponsors.”
Beyond sponsorship, Berry said Boogie can benefit from more teams signing up — corporate, school, family — and from participants spreading its message beyond Kamloops in a bid to make Boogie a regional destination event.
Jenn Ruemper is in her third year as president of Boogie the Bridge Society and spent a decade on the committee.
In 2019, the year before the pandemic arrived, 2,252 people took part in Boogie. In 2022, the first event after two years of pandemic-related cancellations, an almost identical number of people took part — 2,256.
Ruemper said the goal is to nudge that figure up.
“Ideally, we need 2,800 to 3,000 participants,” she said. “It pays the bills and allows us to donate more to our charity of choice.”
Those bills are not insignificant. Ruemper said running Boogie each year carries with it myriad costs, including $30,000 to $35,000 for traffic control, $12,000 to $14,000 for professional timing, $28,000 for t-shirts and $10,000 to $13,000 for medals — not to mention ancillary costs related to water, St. John Ambulance, office space, safety equipment and website hosting.
“In the past, registration fees and sponsorship money covered a huge part of our costs, which led to more money going to the charity of choice,” Ruemper said.
Since its inception in 1998, with just 68 people taking part, Boogie has managed to raise about $1.2 million for its various charities of choice.
In healthier years, the event was able to raise up to $50,000 for its charity choice. Last year, only $5,000 could be donated to Western Canada Theatre’s Indigenous Youth Program, due to the aforementioned pandemic-related expenses.
“Rent, storage fee and insurance still needed to be paid in 2020 and 2021,” Ruemper said, referring to the two idle years of Boogie.
Berry said she wants to ensure Boogie continue and noted her goal this year is to see participant numbers crest the next thousand mark.
“Well, to break 3,000 for sure. Anyone actually who does a lot of running or walking events knows that Boogie is so different than other events, with the sea of red and all the entertainment,” she said. “We just need help to grow it because it’s an amazing event.”
This year’s Boogie the Bridge will return to Riverside Park downtown after spending the past few years on the North Shore. Participants will again truly Boogie across Overlanders Bridge. The event will be held on Sunday, April 23, with RunClub twice-weekly running/walking clinics set to begin on Sunday, March 5, and Tuesday, March 7.
Online registration fees before April 2 at 5 p.m. are $12.50 (plus tax) for children to 12 years of age, $22.50 for youth ages 13 to 17, $60 for adults ages 18 to 64 and $47.50 for those ages 65 and older. Entry fees include a t-shirt, chip-timing bib and medal. All the information is online at boogiethebridge.com.
RunClub training clinics have a separate registration process, information for which can be found online at runclub.ca.
For donation/sponsorship inquires, email email@example.com. For Boogie registration queries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.