Main photo: (from left) Dale Rowe, Rachael Loates, Anthea Bragagnolo, Emily Denniston, Saleem Hall, and Mary Ellen Fetterly at the YMCA’s Bike Pedal Challenge on June 7, 2022. (Hilary Hilton)

What makes a community strong and keeps its members resilient? Is it collective health, abundant opportunities for employment, or available childcare and recreational activities?

For the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, it is about easy accessibility to all of these things.

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has launched their eighth annual Move to Give campaign, a week of fundraising events taking place from June 4-11, 2022.

YMCA staff are participating by hosting different events at their respective locations and community members may participate in person or virtually through the activity passport at All participants can create their own fundraising pages on the website, where anyone is free to donate.

The YMCA Huntsville location joined the campaign by hosting the Bike Pedal Challenge on June 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which consisted of two stationary bikes ridden constantly by various participants throughout the day.

Around fifteen attendees had shown up by late afternoon, including Mayor Karin Terziano, Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock, representatives from the Huntsville Lake of Bays Fire Department and Muskoka Paramedic Services, and various members of the Huntsville community.

The YMCA provides a number of services to the community, most notably their employment services which help community members find gainful employment, as well as their adult learning services, which teach basic skills required for employment such as math, English, literacy, and communication skills.

The YMCA’s employment and learning services, as well as childcare, are funded by the government, however, a number of the YMCA’s other services such as youth camps, language classes, and health and fitness programs are not. All funds raised through the Move to Give campaign will go toward these services.

“The campaign is really about supporting people who may be in a tough spot, who are having to make tough decisions between high gas prices and sending their kid to camp, or between high food cost or going to the gym,” says Saleem Hall, employment specialist for YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. “It’s really about raising funds to help those in our community who may need a hand up, not a hand out.”

Nancy West, team leader of literacy and special projects, says that one major goal for the use of the funds is to provide English as a Second Language classes to the community, as many foreign workers have been moving to the Huntsville area.

Jennifer Harris-Lowe (left) and Nancy West move to give in the YMCA Bike Pedal Challenge. (Hilary Hilton)

Dale Rowe, manager of philanthropy, points out the importance of fundraising, as many community members’ access to the YMCA’s services depends on it. Due to inflation and the fluctuating economy, more and more people are unable to afford the cost of these services.

“That gap is getting bigger and bigger with the cost of everything,” Rowe says, “and it’s not just people who would once be considered under the poverty line. So we’re looking at assisting more people to be able to access recreation, so that we can help break the cycle of poverty. That’s what we’re all about: addressing what the needs of the community are and how we make them accessible to everyone.”

Hall emphasizes the importance of recognizing the profound impact that YMCAs have on their communities. “Most communities that have a YMCA are usually stronger, they’re better off,” he says. “There is a marked improvement on community well-being when they have a YMCA, whether it’s health and fitness, employment, literacy, childcare, or camps. I think that’s one thing the YMCA brings to the region, is a sense of belonging.”

The Bike Pedal Challenge has surpassed its fundraising goal of $3,000, and the Move to Give campaign has raised over $31,000 of its $75,000 goal as of June 7. Donations for the campaign will be accepted until June 11 and general donations to the YMCA are accepted at any time.

For more information, to sign up, or donate, visit

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