Operation Red Nose on the roads for its 19th season

For the past 18 years, volunteers from Pronghorn Athletics and the southern Alberta community have been helping to keep our roads free of impaired drivers. As the 19th season of Operation Red Nose hits the streets this holiday season, the impact of the annual program is felt throughout southern Alberta.

“It’s a wonderful asset to the community that people can access Operation Red Nose,” says Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman. “You can go somewhere, have a good time, and if you plan ahead, you know your car will be back home with you in the morning.”

Operation Red Nose is a unique holiday program that allows individuals who have been drinking, or who do not feel fit to drive their own vehicle home, to summon a team of Red Nose volunteers who will pick them up and drive their vehicles to their homes. A no-fee service, Operation Red Nose accepts donations in support of Pronghorn Athletics.

“It’s really a win-win-win situation,” adds Spearman. “You have volunteers coming out and helping people get home safely, the proceeds go to support athletic programs at the U of L and think about it, how many lives have been saved as a result over the years?”

The nationwide Operation Red Nose campaign is now in its 30th year and over that time, nearly one million volunteers have assisted the program. Client donations are given to youth or amateur sport organizations and last year alone, close to $1.5 million was raised across the country. Locally, more than $500,000 has been raised in support of Pronghorn Athletics over the past 18 years.

The majority of the program’s volunteers are Pronghorn athletes. Each athlete is required to work at least one shift (the program will operate for 12 evenings this season) but many work more.

“I think it’s great showing how involved we are within the community,” says Dylan Tait, a third-year goaltender with the Horns men’s hockey program. “It’s kind of neat when you’re driving somebody home and they ask why you’re doing it and you tell them you’re on the basketball or the hockey team. You see their eyes light up and they realize that we really are a part of this, in between practice and studying, and that we are taking the time to do it.”

Glenda Edie, a fifth-year player on the women’s hockey team, enjoys her nights on the road with her fellow volunteers.

“You get to meet people within the community and also build relationships with other Pronghorn athletes,” she says.

“I’m from Winnipeg and when I moved to Lethbridge to play with the Horns, it was the first I’d ever heard of such a program. It really is a great program, and something I’d like to see in a lot more places.”

Aside from the program’s volunteer support, a variety of local businesses offer financial assistance and products and services that keep Operation Red Nose on the roads each holiday season. Along with cash donations, all food and refreshments for volunteers, along with gas, phone service and insurance coverage is donated to the program. This season, Alpine Insurance and Intact Insurance have taken on the role of co-sponsors for the program’s insurance coverage.

The dates of service for the 2013 Operation Red Nose campaign are November 29-30, December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 and New Year’s Eve.

Call 403-320-4155 to access the service, or contact Pronghorn Athletics at 403-329-2681 to volunteer.