Written by: Beth Hamilton, Product and Marketing Manager
It is a really great day when you can combine your professional skill set with your giving spirit and favourite hobby. Randy, our CTO, and I have had the privilege of doing just that this summer. I have been involved in an event called The BIG SWIM since 2013, and Randy since 2014. This 16KM+ ocean swim from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island fundraises to support a charity called Brigadoon Village, an incredible charity that provides camp programming for children with chronic illnesses and other life challenges. The BIG SWIM swimmers have raised more than $1 million for Brigadoon Village, which translates to around 1,000 campers attending this amazing facility.
I can recall a few years ago while on a tour of Brigadoon for BIG SWIM participants, one of the staff told me that “Randy fixed our WiFi. We couldn’t even upload a picture to social media before he came here.” This was long before I worked at SolutionInc, but I recall thinking how impressive it was to “fix” WiFi in such a remote area. Brigadoon is in my home town, with my family owning a cottage only 10 minutes away from the Village’s beautiful facility. It is heavily wooded and features the beautiful Aylesford Lake; perfect for outdoor expeditions for the campers. But the beauty and character that this remote location offers also makes it a challenge to get proper Internet connectivity. Imagine trying to run a business in an area that couldn’t offer you the basics of modern day business operations? #goodluck. Little did I know that SolutionInc specialized in this type of remote locations.
Randy knew once he heard their troubles that he could help. Being the kind soul and techie that he is, he knew how to solve their problems. With a satellite Internet connection and proper hardware, he set Brigadoon up for WiFi success. Something his delivery team has done for many remote sites. Imagine their excitement. Now, a few years later, Brigadoon reached out again for a little help. Their programming is expanding and they needed to extend their WiFi in order to meet the increasing demands of camp operations. Although the camp counsellors are immersed in their camp duties, they still get a little time to unwind and connect with friends and family at home. That’s difficult without WiFi connectivity, especially when cell service is spotty in the area. Their medical center was only using a single wired connection – a what, you might ask? Who uses those anymore?
Just a few weekends ago, on yet another BIG SWIM tour of Brigadoon, we installed a little hardware and offered a few suggestions on how to configure the network so that the team can continue to offer amazing camp programming for these deserving kids. Their counselors will be able to stream some video content and video chat their friends, while medical staff will have access to resources and files online from anywhere in the medical facility (featuring the best views that camp has to offer).
Don’t we look like we’re having fun? Randy and I working on their network.
Between Randy and I, we’ve fundraised more than $10,000 for Brigadoon Village (and still counting as Randy is swimming again this year – you can donate here), but offering our expertise is just as exciting and valuable. The staff at Brigadoon do an amazing job at giving extraordinary kids a chance to be ordinary; they let us handle the WiFi.
Randy and I proudly standing next to the BIG SWIM DOCK sign at Brigadoon Village. An honor that GIVETOLIVE received once we reached $1million for Brigadoon Village.
The 2019 BIG SWIMMERs who came for the Brigadoon Village tour and swam in Aylesford Lake. There are 50 swimmers this year.
A little extra about Brigadoon Village: Founding Director, Dave McKeage was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11, which resulted in his summer being spent in the hospital undergoing a series of operations and chemotherapy. This experience led him to pursue a volunteer opportunity at The Canadian Cancer Society at the age of 15. This is when Dave had his lightbulb moment, in which he came to the realization that Brigadoon Village was needed.
Several years later, while working at Canadian Cancer Society’s Camp Goodtime as Summer Director, McKeage had an epiphany. He explains, “I wanted to build a camp for people living with chronic illness and I knew it could be done.” Since then, his drive only grew stronger and McKeage set out to turn his large and complex dream of creating a camp that allows children leading extraordinary lives, to feel ordinary, a reality. In 2011, Brigadoon welcomed 38 campers to its first summer camp program, nine years later, Brigadoon will see over 800 youth join them at camp.
Unfortunately, Dave lost his lifelong battle with cancer this past December, but it has only increased the determination of those involved in Brigadoon to continue Dave’s vision well into the future.
A little extra about The BIG SWIM, a GIVETOLIVE Project: GIVETOLIVE features three BIG events, The BIG SWIM, The BIG RIDE, and The BIG CHILL. These events have raised more than $3 million since their inception in 2007, each fundraising for a different cause. Their vision and mission seeks to inspire people to live happy and healthy lives through generosity, fitness and the achievement of the extraordinary. To find out more or how to get involved, visit www.givetolive.ca.