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University of Lethbridge athletics pausing 'Operation Red Nose' citing challenges securing insurance

The University of Lethbridge Pronghorn Athletics program is putting a pause on Operation Red Nose for the 2023 holiday season. The University of Lethbridge Pronghorn Athletics program is putting a pause on Operation Red Nose for the 2023 holiday season.

After 26 years, the University of Lethbridge Pronghorn Athletics is putting the brakes on its Operation Red Nose program because of difficulty getting insurance.

“There was a change in their corporate structure and the new person that came in thought there was a bit too much risk in the rideshare with young drivers,” said Neil Langevin, executive director of Pronghorn Athletics, adding they have been trying to get insurance since February.

Langevin says his team has been working to find an alternative provider, but simply ran out of time to allow them to launch the full program and mobilize the volunteer recruitment effort.

Since 1994, more than 250 volunteers would spend the holiday season driving people and their vehicles home after a night out as part of Operation Red Nose.

The program is the Pronghorn’s largest fundraiser bringing in $815,000 since it started.

“This is going to put a little dent, mainly in the exhibition travel,” Langevin said.

“Our coaches and staff have been pretty proactive in trying to generate external funds. We are looking to have something in the spring with a dinner and some entertainment to hopefully fill the gap a little bit.”

The campaign runs on volunteers, mainly consisting of student-athletes from the U of L and Lethbridge College, who provide nearly 1,000 rides each year.

“They’re key because people want to go out and be able to enjoy themselves and that sort of thing and not have that worry and know they can depend on somebody else by making that simple phone call,” said Anita Huchala, president of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Lethbridge and area.

“So, by having the service not in operation this year, it is a concern as to what's going to be out there.”

Huchala is encouraging everyone who is celebrating the holidays to plan ahead and find a safe, alternative way home.

“You’ve got that money to have a couple of drinks, always set aside a couple of extra dollars to pay for that taxi or cab,” Huchala said. “Phone a friend or a family member or even, possibly, stay where you are, if you can do that. But let’s make sure everybody gets home safely.”

Although the campaign is cancelled for this year, Langevin says planning for 2024 is already underway.

“It hurts quite a bit to not have this running this year and we look forward to looking for solutions for next year,” he said. Top Stories

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