MPU Halifax Race the Base fundraiser

From left, Race the Base volunteer Ty Fetinko, LS Alexandre Sausins and Cpl Carol-Ann Caron, local MPFBC reps, Maj Melanie Rheaume, MPU Halifax Commanding Officer, LCol Vanessa Hanrahan, national chair for the MPFBC, CWO Sandra Madore, Constant Ma, Cars & Coffee Executive Director, and Paul Zhang of YST Auto in Lower Sackville. The local reps presented LCol Hanrahan with a cheque for $29,500, the total amount raised from the Race the Base fundraiser.

MPU Halifax, Cars & Coffee, raise $29,500 with Race the Base event

By Ryan Melanson,
Trident Staff

The sight of custom cars speeding down the decommissioned airfield at 12 Wing Shearwater would normally be cause for alarm, but that wasn’t the case on June 2. Thanks to a partnership between Military Police Unit Halifax and local group Cars & Coffee, the site was host to 150 cars and more than 2,000 spectators for the first Race the Base event, a fundraiser in support of the Military Police Fund for Blind Children (MPFBC).

The day was a huge success, surpassing the initial fundraising goal of $25,000 and setting a standard that those involved hope to improve upon in years ahead.

LCol Vanessa Hanrahan and Paul Zhang of YST Auto show off Paul’s Nissan GT-R, which was a big hit at the Race the Base fundraiser on June 2.

The partnership began in summer 2017 when MPU Halifax first connected with Cars & Coffee, a group of self-described gearheads who aim to help local charities by meeting up and showing off their sweet rides.

“We’re a charity group of car enthusiasts; we organize monthly shows and we’ve been doing it for about four years now. It started out very small, and has ramped up to the point we’re at now,” said Constant Ma, the group’s founder and executive director.

The 2017 event, a Show ‘n’ Shine, brought in about $5,000 for the MPFBC, and the organizers immediately started thinking about how to expand on the idea for 2018.

“The drag racing was the big draw this year. People were very excited about it,” said Ty Fetinko, who volunteered at Race the Base with the Cars & Coffee group. About $17,000 was raised prior to the event through sponsorships alone, and then nearly doubled following Race the Base, ending with a total of $29,500 raised.

Ty Fetinko receives a volunteer spirit award from LCol Vanessa Hanrahan, recognizing his involvement in the Race the Base fundraiser.

The donation to the MPFBC was so significant that LCol Vanessa Hanrahan, the Commander of the Canadian Army Military Police Group, who also serves as the national board chair for the charity, came from Ottawa for a cheque presentation on June 20 to personally thank those who made the event possible. This included representatives from Cars & Coffee, Paul Zhang of YST Auto, who attended Race the Base and made a significant contribution to the MPFBC, along with LS Alexandre Sausins and Cpl Carol-Ann Caron, the charity reps at MPU Halifax who co-organized the drag-racing event.

“It’s no small feat to put on a big event like this and have it become a success,” LCol Hanrahan said.

“It can be difficult to come into the military environment and integrate with us, and with all the special rules and regulations that might come up. I’m thrilled they were able to come together and put on such a fantastic event.”

Because of this donation and others like it, the charity will deliver more than $250,000 in gifts to vision impaired children this year, in the form of braille readers and other accessibility devices, and also provides funding to other charities and organizations that support blind children and young adults. The fund is run and managed entirely by Military Police volunteers who receive no additional pay or benefits for the work, and at least one representative can be found at every Military Police unit.

“The only reason we can keep doing this is because of volunteers and sponsors and people who help us raise the money, which is why we’re so grateful for all the hard work and dedication that went into Race the Base,” LCol Hanrahan said.

The organizers say there are hopes to return to Shearwater in 2019 for an even larger event, and to continue annually from there.