Helping others in a time of COVID
By Lt Nicole Morrison,
Picture this: music is blasting and people are cheering as 147 participants, split into 6 teams, take turns riding stationary bikes as part of ship-wide fundraising bike-a-thon. Their teammates stand next to them, offering encouragement and bottles of water as they pedal. In a COVID environment, the only place an event like this can take place is on a ship, due to the quarantine restrictions and COVID testing of sailors prior to departure for Ex JOINT WARRIOR 20-2, effectively eliminating the risk transmission while on ship, and making life at sea more comfortable for those on board.
The event was part of the National Defence Workplace Charitable Campaign, and consisted of 147 participants making up 6 teams, each representing one of the ship’s departments. The teams split up the 24-hour period as they saw fit, with some teams taking hour-long shifts, others tag-teaming the hours with 15 minute sprints. Over the course of 24 hours, 4342.4 km were biked, roughly the equivalent of crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and $5113.00 was raised among the six teams. While only one team, the Combat Systems Engineering department, was crowned the winner, the ship’s company had a fun day raising money for charity while getting in some exercise, all while in friendly competition with their shipmates.
The bike-a-thon was orchestrated by SLt Alisha McCafferty and SLt Shannon O’Reilly, Marine Systems Engineering Officers-in training. “It was a really fun day that we had a great time organizing” said SLt O’Reilly. “It’s great that we can still get to do this kind of thing while we’re on ship,” added SLt McCafferty. “It would have been much harder to make happen on land, because of all the COVID limitations.”
This COVID-free status allowed the crew onboard the ships to have peace of mind as they sailed for the UK, not needing to wear masks or keep six feet of distance between them, something that is extremely difficult to achieve on a warship. By remaining on board during port visits, and not interacting with any shore staff, the crews maintained that status throughout the sail, totalling five weeks COVID-free, making this charity bike-a-thon on the flight deck and in the hangar possible and allowing members to be close by as they offered support for their teammates.