Van Brunt’s Jacob’s-ladder (Photo by Joanie Bélanger, BEA)

Van Brunt’s Jacob’s-ladder (Photo by Joanie Bélanger, BEA)

Jean-Michel Beaulieu (left), before the start (Photo by Marie-Eve Dufresne)

Jean-Michel Beaulieu (left), before the start (Photo by Marie-Eve Dufresne)

Jean-Michel Beaulieu: Going the distance for our environment

Jean-Michel Beaulieu, a member of the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC’s) Emerging Leaders Circle, holds fundraising events for Canada's natural areas.

I’ve always found peace in the beauty of mountains, forests and water. They remind me of how lucky we are to live in a country with such rich natural areas, and how easy it is to enjoy them, no matter the time of year.

I realized the need to help protect Canada’s natural heritage early on. As in my finance work, where I must engage in meticulous analyses, I was careful in selecting a nature-based organization to donate to. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) seemed to me the best choice, due to its unparalleled mission, its work and its efficiency.

I have been an NCC Leader in Conservation since 2013, which means I donate 1000$ or more to NCC per year. I am also a member of the Nature Legacy Society, as I have included NCC in my Will.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to do even more to help the cause. That’s why I organized a fundraiser in 2013. I decided to raise funds through a 10-kilometre running race, even though I had never run in my life.

The wind at my back

I started training two months before race day.

My determination carried me all through my rigorous training sessions, which I integrated as best as I could into my busy life as a father and husband.

As I began to find an affinity for running, I added another challenge: a time goal! I also added the following commitments:

  • If I could run the race in fewer than 48 minutes, I would match each dollar donated to my run.
  • If I could complete it in fewer than 44 minutes, I would double the amount raised.

These challenges motivated me even more. The morning of the race, I was filled with determination. Remembering my fundraising goals, I ran like I’d never run before. My legs were running on their own! I even surprised my partner with my early finish. Total run time: 40 minutes and 31 seconds! Double the sense of accomplishment!

Going the extra mile

Throughout these fundraising efforts, I chatted about NCC with more than 30 people who donated to my run. I raised more than $10,000, thanks to people who, I believe, have started to develop an interest in the conservation of natural areas.

To some folks, I am a “granola hippie” who is striving for a lost cause: the protection of our planet. I know that the amount I raised is small when compared to the ever-growing needs of environmental organizations, but I remain convinced that with NCC’s help, these small victories can help us go the extra mile.

In today’s society, it’s easy to think that we can’t make a difference. However, when you can help someone appreciate a cause that is close to your heart, it seems anything is possible. It’s that lightness, the adrenaline and sense of accomplishment when the distance is run that we must keep in mind every day in our struggle for a healthier environment.

When we talk about today’s environment, it often raises thoughts about pollution, ever more catastrophic predictions and record new species losses. But many initiatives can inspire feelings of hope in the face of despair. Let’s look to the future with hope and dig in together!

Since my first race and fundraiser, I’ve committed to making it an annual tradition. If we work together, I’m sure that we can move mountains. But more importantly, that we can conserve them!

Click here to donate to NCC!

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Funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada