Diving community comes together to support Christmas Daddies
By Ryan Melanson,
The holiday season hasn’t quite kicked off yet, but personnel at Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) (FDU(A)) are getting in the spirit early as they prepare for the unit’s 41st annual fundraising campaign in support of the Christmas Daddies telethon.
The main event of the Navy Divers Run will be the 50-kilometre relay in conjunction with Christmas Daddies on December 2, but the effort to raise money to help less fortunate families during the holidays has already begun. Smaller unit-level fundraisers have taken place, like weekly breakfast sandwich sales and hockey shootout challenges, and the campaign’s GoFundMe page is now live, allowing anyone to contribute to the initiative.
Sailor 1st Class Michael Butt said the unit looks forward to Christmas Daddies each year, and team members have been enthusiastic as they get started for 2023.
“It’s pretty special to see how much time, energy, and also money, everyone here at the unit is willing to give to such a good cause,” he added.
“Obviously it’s something we’ve been doing for a long time and something that’s important to the unit. It gives us a chance to all come together again right before the holiday break, and to truly exercise all of the teamwork we build on all year long, while giving a big push to give back to the community.”
Since the partnership was established in 1983, more than $385,000 has been raised for Christmas Daddies by the diving community, their family members, and others who choose to support the Navy Divers Run.
The run component of the event has taken different forms through the years, from the original route along the highway from Truro to Halifax, to later iterations that saw team members running throughout the HRM. In recent years, COVID-19 meant the relay took place closer to the unit’s home at 12 Wing Shearwater, and for 2023, the runners plan to utilize the Shearwater Flyer Trail system.
Despite the changes, the runners will still cap off their 50km day in the classic fashion, by running into the Christmas Daddies Telethon broadcast to present their donation live on CTV.
Another returning component for 2023 will be the Hot Spots, where divers will be set up around the community to collect donations on December 2, including at Alderney Landing and the Halifax Waterfront. Stay tuned for the full list of locations. The goal is to be as visible as possible, both to encourage donations and shine some light on FDU(A) itself, and the incredible work clearance divers do on behalf of the Royal Canadian Navy.
“We’re a bit of an obscure trade, and it’s very difficult and strenuous to become a clearance diver. Not everyone is aware of the capability we provide,” said Lt(N) Samuel-Alexandre Mercier, FDU(A)’s Operations Officer.
But above all, the campaign is about raising money for a good cause, and the divers, along with others, will be out in full force on December 2 to do just that.
“It’s really for the whole diving community. We get retired clearance divers that will come run, and family members as well, everyone’s welcome,” Lt(N) Mercier added.
“And the contribution to the community is significant. We’ve been really proud of the amount of funds we’ve raised over the last few years.”