The Great Lighthouse Rescue

United Way of Thunder Bay to weigh anchor and set sail with new fundraising campaign; The Great Lighthouse Rescue.

Thursday, June 1, Thunder Bay, ON

After a three-year hiatus, the United Way of Thunder Bay announced at a media event this morning that they are bringing back a long-standing fundraising event that was put on pause: a re-imagined version of the Great Billboard Rescue. This year, the community organization casts off from the traditional fundraiser to introduce a new rescue mission in partnership with the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Griffon: The Great Lighthouse Rescue.

Just as we were considering whether to bring back the Billboard Rescue this year, we were approached by HMCS Griffon crew with a unique, exciting and creative suggestion for how to make it more exhilarating and attract even greater community participation. It was the perfect storm,” says Albert Brulé, CEO of United Way of Thunder Bay. “We’re so grateful to the Royal Canadian Navy and the crew of HMCS Griffon for offering to help us out and make this event bigger, better, and wetter than ever before!”

On June 28, thirteen groups of castaways, representing agencies supported by United Way, will find themselves stranded out at the breakwater Lighthouse on Lake Superior. In order for each of the thirteen crews to be rescued and brought back safely to Prince Arthur’s Landing, they must send out an S.O.S. for donations.

To help ‘fuel’ the mission, long-time United Way supporter Cliff Friesen has agreed to serve as Honorary Commander of Operation Lighthouse Rescue. In turn, Hon. Cdr. Friesen is challenging business and community leaders to join in the rescue and come onboard as Honorary Captains and help raise funds to undertake one of the 13 rescue operations. Hon. Cdr. Friesen will match all funds donated up to $25,000.

“This new twist on the Billboard Rescue is sure to bring a ton of excitement to the waterfront, all while supporting essential community programs and services,” says Friesen. “I challenge ‘captains’ of industry, ‘captains’ of labour, ‘captains’ of community to join the mission by answering the S.O.S. call! Help us rescue these brave castaways and make a difference in the community.”

The actual rescues will be executed by the Royal Canadian Navy and the gallant sailors of HMCS Griffon. Honorary Captains and rescue crews will have the opportunity join HMCS Griffon personnel aboard a 24ft Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat and go out to the Lighthouse to rescue the stranded agency castaways and return them safely to the marina – along with a few high-speed turns and evasive maneuvers as they speed across the harbour!

Says Lieutenant Commander Farley Farn of HMCS Griffon; “Our crew is eager to get involved with the United Way and help local people in need. The Great Lighthouse Rescue is the perfect way for us to demonstrate our skills for a great cause. We get to share the beauty of our harbour, have some fun out on the water, and most importantly, make a difference in the community.”

Rescues will be undertaken from Pier 3 throughout the day, starting at 11 am until approximately 5:30 pm. Members of the public are invited to come down to Marina Park to cheer on and support the agency castaways and courageous captains.

The Great Lighthouse Rescue event will also include a community BBQ, high-powered binoculars to observe the rescue missions from shore, a photo area, United Way and HMCS swag booths, and other local vendors.

All funds donated will go to support crucial community programming and services to meet the needs of local people.

Show Your Support

To show your support and help rescue one of the agency teams or castaways, or to support one of the Honorary Captains undertake their rescue mission, click on the RESCUE ME button.

Or if you would like to leave an agency castaway or Honorary Captain stranded in the harbour for an extra stretch of time, click on the LEAVE THEM STRANDED button.