Navy Divers prep for annual holiday fundraising run

A team of divers from Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) have been preparing for this year’s Navy Divers Run in support of the Christmas Daddies Telethon.

Navy Divers prep for annual holiday fundraising run

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident Staff

Members of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) are feeling the holiday spirit a little early as they ready for their 39th annual Navy Divers Run to raise money in support of the Christmas Daddies Telethon.

While COVID-19 continues to challenge plans for in-person events, FDU(A) personnel are using technology and ingenuity to find new ways to keep the tradition going.

Unit members will still be running 50 kilometres on December 4, but instead of doing one long 50-km route, they’ve added a twist.

Working in teams of three, one member will run laps around their unit’s building and parking lot, while a second member does a workout and a third swims in the harbour — wearing a wetsuit, of course, said S1 Mike Burke, who will be taking part in the event for the first time this year.

“There’s a lot of excitement here in the planning for this event. It’s such a huge tradition for us as divers, it’s something we really look forward to,” he said. “It’s such a great opportunity to give back to our community. It’s been a hard go for so many people over the past couple of years, it feels good to be a part of this.”

Since their first fundraising efforts in support of the Christmas Daddies telethon, back in 1983, FDU(A) members, and their families, have collected nearly $335,000 in donations through the Navy Divers Run.

Their contributions add up to more than a million dollars after adding in the amounts collected in bids at the Christmas Daddies auction for the MK5 brass diving helmet — a much-coveted returning item the unit donated in 1985.

Despite restrictions last year due to COVID-19, the unit still managed to raise $10,000 by setting up a Go Fund Me page for donations.

In some ways, the challenges of dealing with COVID-19 have helped spur an “evolution” of how the unit raises money, said LCdr Neville Lockyer, Commanding Officer at FDU(A).

“The pandemic has changed the way we interact with the public but now with electronic means, we’re able to use things like Go Fund Me and social media to fundraise, and people can e-transfer their donation easily. In many ways, it will help bring our efforts to more people,” said LCdr Lockyer.

Along with the activities that will be happening at the unit on December 4, members of FDU(A) will be showing the Navy Diver spirit at some other locations around Halifax Regional Municipality. Expect to see members on stationary bikes at Alderney Landing, Halifax Waterfront, near Murphy’s, and the Dartmouth Crossing pavilion.

“Every year, getting ready for our Christmas Daddies fundraiser kicks off the Christmas season for us. We’re a family here at Fleet Diving Unit, but this event brings us even closer. It’s a special event and the fact that it’s such a long-standing tradition makes it even more special,” said LCdr Lockyer.

The Christmas Daddies telethon has been a holiday tradition since 1964. Run by a not-for-profit organization, Christmas Daddies raises money to buy gifts for children, including toys and food. Last year’s event helped more than 14,000 Maritime children and families.

To support Christmas Daddies and the Navy Divers Run, visit The 58th Annual Christmas Daddies Telethon will be broadcast on December 4 from 11 am to 6 pm on CTV with a livestream on the web at