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Fitness challenge returns in honour of Kootenay surgeon

For the second year in a row, a fundraiser will honour a late West Kootenay surgeon by encouraging participants to get moving.

The Operation Owatz Movement Challenge asks you to spend six weeks developing healthy habits and recording them, while raising money for the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Foundation.

“It takes that long to get something ingrained into our system,” says organizer and foundation chair Lindy Welsby. “And those habits are around moving: walking, hiking, biking, swimming, and rollerblading to encourage people to be active.”

She says it’s important to honor Dr. Todd Owatz’s beliefs around fitness and health.

“He helped people through surgery, but his first prescription was always ‘What are you doing to help yourself through fitness?'”

Owatz died on Oct. 15, 2020 at age 49, leaving his wife and two children. He practiced at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital for 18 years, where he was highly regarded as a general surgeon.

The challenge begins Monday and concludes on the second anniversary of Owatz’s passing.

Welsby says Owatz and his family were good friends of hers, and among the first people she met when she moved to the area.

“When he passed, I really wanted to do something to honor his legacy and his work,” she says. “This year we wanted to see if we could continue and keep remembering why we’re doing this: to support the hospital and to support his memory.”

Because of COVID, she says they weren’t able to do anything face-to-face last year, so they opted for a virtual event. Welsby, Owatz’s wife Sandra, and a small team of volunteers worked to put the event together, and managed to raise twice their goal of $20,000 for the ambulatory care campaign. This year they have increased their goal to $30,000, with the money earmarked for the same cause.

You can register online or via Facebook or Instagram for $50, collect pledges, and then track your activities manually or through an online app. Although you participate as an individual, you will also be randomly assigned to a team. There are prizes for both individual and team accomplishments. Those who raise over $500 are eligible for a draw for the grand prize of an e-bike donated by Gerick’s Cycle.

You can donate directly to Operation Owatz at (select “other” and type Operation Owatz) or call the KBRH Health Foundation at 250-364-3424.

For more information, call or text 250-921-5630 or email [email protected].

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