When the Oak Bay Tea Party annual teacup race kicks off in June, one mayor will face an additional hurdle – community philanthropy will determine which mayor that is.
Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch and Saanich Mayor Dean Murdock are pitting their communities in a friendly battle to raise the final funds needed for Victoria Hand Project’s Hands for Ukraine campaign.
“I know a lot of our residents are watching the horrific invasion of Ukraine right now and feeling helpless,” Murdoch said. “I am excited we can directly support a local charity with unique technology, expertise and a willingness to go into a war zone to make a difference. Most importantly, this project will give Ukrainians the hands they need to help rebuild their country.”
The campaign is $70,000 shy of the $200,000 needed to set up and staff clinics in Ukraine. The clinics will support the estimated 10,000 amputees resulting from the Russian invasion.
“Not only does this program help build capacity for prosthetics expertise within Ukraine, our charitable structure ensures we can offer all Ukrainians a pay-what-you-can model, ensuring that those in the greatest need receive the prosthetic arms free of charge,” said Michael Peirone, CEO of Victoria Hand Project and graduate of UVic’s Biomedical Engineering program.
Based on the Oak Bay and Saanich border, the Victoria Hand Project is a Canadian charity and non-profit spun out of the University of Victoria Engineering program. It provides 3D printed prosthetic arms and services to amputees facing poverty and other barriers to receiving care. The funds raised through this challenge will be used to support on-demand prosthetic care in Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Victoria Hand Project completed a successful pilot project working with medical staff in Ukraine – leaving five people with new prosthetics. The goal is to return this summer with 3D printing and scanning equipment, supplies and advanced training to support prosthetic care to 100 amputees out of clinics in Lviv and Vinnytsia.
Back home, the mayor of the community that raises the least will wear a prosthetic arm while rowing the annual teacup challenge. The race runs is a tradition in the annual Oak Bay Tea Party where the mayor challenges community leaders to row the floating teacups to a buoy off Willows Beach and back.
It’s a family event that usually draws a crowd. Competitors are given unequal paddles that inspire chaotic racing and result in a good laugh.
“This is an opportunity for our communities to come together in friendly competition to support victims in Ukraine with the prosthetic care they need,” Murdock said. “I would like to thank residents from across the region ahead of time for their support.”
Donors receive a charitable tax receipt and can select their community when donating online at victoriahandproject.com/ukraine.