For 30 years, Kelowna’s Sweetheart Tournament has been a fixture on the ringette scene in British Columbia.

But because of challenges faced by the Kelowna Ringette Association (KRA) in trying to stick-handle around the pandemic, for the second year in a row, the tournament has been abandoned.

“It’s an event that’s been running for over 30 years here in the Kelowna community, and, so, for our athletes, this is such a big deal,” Kelowna Ringette Association president Tessa Russell told Global News.

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The cancellation of the 31st annual Sweetheart Tournament comes at a cost because it attracts more than 1,800 participants from across BC and Alberta.

“It brings quite a bit of revenue into the community,” Russell said. “We have our hotel sponsors, we have our community partners and it also brings revenue for the restaurant industry.”

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But the biggest issue for Kelowna Ringette is that the tournament is its primary fundraiser.

As a non-profit organization, KRA relies on the funding to help keep registration fees affordable and pay costs for running the association that keeps these athletes playing the game of ringette.

Click to play video: 'Largest ringette tournament in Canada hits the ice for 34th year'

Largest ringette tournament in Canada hits the ice for 34th year

Largest ringette tournament in Canada hits the ice for 34th year – Jan 17, 2020

And while the term ‘pandemic pivot’ may have worn out its welcome of late, that’s exactly what the association is doing in order to compensate for the $ 30,000 revenue loss.

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“We are running an online 50/50 which is open to anyone in the province of BC,” Russell said.

“We welcome the support from everyone across the province to help our association to keep going and keep afloat.”

The hope is that the cash draw will raise enough funds to prevent the KRA from having to raise player registration fees.

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More information on the fundraiser, which runs until Feb. 13, can be found here.

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