Supplied photo

Heather Goertzen (right) and spouse, Wes (left), and children Maeve, 7, and Anaïs, 3 ½, biked 100 kms in support of MCC. The ride started on a good note when Anaïs cheered, “We can do it, we can go to Ninga!”

The summer of 2020 has not been what most people might have imagined. With endless amount of free time and not too many places to go, many took up the challenge to make a difference.

When their plans to travel and local summer events were cancelled, Boissevain residents, Heather and Wes Goertzen and their two daughters, Maeve, age seven, and Anaïs, age three and a half, were looking for something to do. 

The family of four are regular event attendees at Cycle Clear Lake and the Brandon MCC Relief Sale, two annual fundraisers for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) held in the Westman region of Manitoba. Both events were cancelled for 2020. But, when the family heard of MCC’s new summer event, GO! 100 where supporters were asked to take on a fundraising challenge to raise money for those affected by the pandemic, they all jumped on board.

“We wanted to have a bit of family challenge, for a good cause is even better,” said Goertzen.

“We wanted to have a bit of family challenge, for a good cause is even better,” said Heather Goertzen.

On a hot day in July, the Goertzens set out to collectively cycle 100 kms in commemoration of MCC’s centennial year. They saddled up and, with the promise of ice cream at the finish line, biked a total of 120 kms from Boissevain to Ninga and back. They completed the ride with only one minor crash and two causal skunk sightings, which they avoided by keeping their distance.

The Goertzens hoped to raise $1,000, but with the help of their church community, the young family raised over $3,500 to help vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.

Since social distancing restrictions have reduced gatherings this summer, many churches have had to get creative with gathering with their congregation and faith community.

Kennedy Froese, a summer intern at Sterling Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, and her fellow church administrators thought an evening of handing out 100 frozen treats was the perfect way to get everyone involved.

Keeping a safe physical distance, Moses Falco (left), Corinne Friesen Loewen and Kennedy Froese (right) were ready to hand out frozen treats for Sterling Mennonite Church's "Night of 100 Ice Cream Sandwiches". Supplied photo

“We wanted a way for our congregation, especially those not comfortable coming to church on Sunday morning, to come to an outdoor gathering that was socially distanced,” said Froese. Attendees were invited to walk, drive or bike to the event.

“We wanted a way for our congregation, especially those not comfortable coming to church on Sunday morning, to come to an outdoor gathering that was socially distanced,” said Froese.

“We gloved- and masked-up and we handed out ice cream sandwiches,” said Froese. Members of all ages from the church brought lawn chairs and socially distanced in the church parking lot. Eager to reach their goal of 100, the church handed out the refreshing sandwiches to hot and sweaty cyclists passing by.

In total, the group raised $1,200. “People were very generous. When you can get behind a cause and it has a silly name, like ‘Night of 100 Ice Cream Sandwiches’, people are more than willing,” said Froese.

The group also made a promotional video to drum up excitement for their challenge. It's available on their website.

Any activity was possible for the GO! 100 challenge. From biking 100 kms, dancing for 100 minutes or making 100 cookies the opportunities were endless, said Emily-Ann Doerksen, communications and events assistant for MCC in Manitoba. 

“When we launched GO! 100 we didn’t know what to expect. We’ve been blown away by how creative and generous people have been in support of MCC’s centennial," said Doerksen.

“When we launched GO! 100 we didn’t know what to expect. We’ve been blown away by how creative and generous people have been in support of MCC’s centennial," said Doerksen.

The Lee siblings from Winnipeg joined GO! 100 in the beginning of August. They were determined to complete their challenges and raise a total of $800 for vulnerable people affected by COVID-19.

Each sibling chose an activity that was significant to them. Matthew, 12, decided to climb up and down the ropes course in front of his house 100 times, while Nadia, 12, decided to sew 100 dog toys to donate to pet shelters. After many hours of climbing and sewing, the siblings have almost completed their challenges and have raised over $1,500. 

Nadia Lee, 12, put her sewing skills to the test and decided to make 100 homemade squeaker toys for dogs at the local pet shelter. Supplied photo

Their mother, Leanne Lee, noted that GO! 100 wasn’t only about a fun challenge, but about being a part of a calling that has lasted 100 years.

“We’re a part of a project that is just beyond our neighborhood,” said Lee. It’s really special to be a part of something that has so much history and has been centennially appreciated around the world, she added.

“We’re a part of a project that is just beyond our neighborhood,” said Lee. It’s really special to be a part of something that has so much history and has been centennially appreciated around the world.

To learn more about these challenges visit mccmb.ca/GO-100.

Read more stories about how MCC is responding to COVID-19 at mccmb.ca/stories.