Campus Life

Operation Red Nose beats the cold

The weather outside was truly frightful but Operation Red Nose battled through the elements to help make the 2008 holiday season a safer one in Lethbridge.

The final volunteer and ride counts are in and once again, the University of Lethbridge's Operation Red Nose (ORN) designated driving program is a shining example of the positive impact this community initiative can provide.

"I thought it was a very good year, anytime we can top 1,000 rides, it's a really good year," says ORN volunteer coordinator Debby Steacy. "If it wasn't for the cold snap that hit, really from Dec. 12 on, we would probably have seen even higher numbers."

As it was, U of L volunteers, led by Pronghorn Athletics, totaled 567 and provided 1,082 rides over the holiday season. While those numbers are down marginally from a year ago (600 volunteers and 1,131 rides), Steacy attributes much of that to the brutally cold temperatures and poor driving conditions, which discouraged some volunteers from taking part.

Putting the Lethbridge numbers into context with the rest of the province, it's apparent this community puts great value on the program. Lethbridge ride totals accounted for a whopping 62 per cent of the entire province's total (1,082 of 1,754 total rides), with four communities taking part this past holiday season.

"I just think we're the perfect size community for this program to succeed," says Sandy Slavin, executive director, Sport and Recreation Services. "You look at the number of volunteers we had (567) and it's not that much greater than Edmonton (513) and yet we had almost twice the number of rides. The size of our community allows us to do that, plus the media here has supported us so well, everybody knows what we're all about."

While the program could always use more volunteers, ORN only ran short on two or three nights, Slavin says.

"Another 60 to 100 volunteers would be ideal, but if we're only short on three nights, we've done well," she says.

What's encouraging is that the program is beginning to feed itself.

"Some of our first-time volunteers said they'd used the program before and from that experience, decided they'd like to be a part of it."

Look for Operation Red Nose in December 2009 as Pronghorn Athletics continues its campaign to help make Lethbridge roads safer.