When Amanda James’ mother passed away last Christmas, it made her want to do something to give back to her community.
As someone who’s always been into health and fitness and as a special education teacher at Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s Tommie Kunst Junior High School, she said wanted to do something that would benefit children who are either severely handicapped or sick while promoting health and wellness to fellow teachers or adults, James said.
She landed on the idea of hosting an event at Orcutt’s Lift Cycle Studio, where teachers or adults take a spin class for $10 or could donate without participating, and all funds would go toward Cottage Children’s Medical Center in Santa Barbara, she said.
“It was a two-fold thing: raising money for the medical center and introducing the staff to something new, something different to keep them healthy mentally and physically,” James said.
She approached Cottage, which told her the medical center needed new craft supplies and new library books—which James said was the “perfect tie-in.”
Teachers went through a spin class on Feb. 26 that had multiple raffles, a take-home goodie bag, and catered food at the end. The class raised $1,340 for the Santa Barbara Cottage Children’s Medical Center.
“It was overwhelming. I didn’t think it’d be as successful as it was, but the overwhelming part was the actual atmosphere and the feedback from the teachers and the staff. To see people taking on their fitness goals, aiming for higher, aiming for more. That was really big, that was huge,” James said.
Cottage allocated the dollars to its Children’s Miracle Network, which funds lifesaving technology and equipment, family overnight housing while their child is in the hospital, a playroom, and pediatric behavior and mental health support, she added.
Cottage Children’s Hospital told James in an email that the money would impact all of the categories the miracle network supports, which are considered to be some of Cottage’s “greatest pediatric needs right now.”
“It’s heartwarming to present a check to the children’s hospital and to just receive all the gratitude and thanks from people,” James said. “It was just a life-changing thing for me, really. It makes me want to do more.”
Now, James said she’d like to host more fundraisers that stay in the theme of health and fitness and benefit organizations that serve the local Santa Maria and Orcutt communities.
“I think I see participation increasing, but I’m also aware [that in] recent years [people] are struggling so I want to keep it simple, low cost, but keep it beneficial,” she said. “I want to make sure they get something out of it. Whoever participates or donates is also getting something back out of it as well.”
She added that she’s currently seeking different organizations to benefit. Send suggestions for local organizations to [email protected].
• Get ready to jump on a bike this May and take part in CycleMAYnia 2023. More than 23 events and activities countywide are offered as part of celebrating National Bike Month, each uniquely designed for kids, families, adults, and commuters. The public can join CycleMAYnia events and take on challenges to earn achievement badges for sponsored giveaways plus the chance to win an electric Radwagon cargo bike. There are also hidden badges participants can unlock for more chances to win throughout the month. An events and activities calendar is available online at cyclemaynia.org.
• After a three-year pause, the Cottage Mental Health Fair is back in person where residents can receive information about mental illness, substance use disorders, and services available in the community. This year’s fair will be held at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on May 6 at 10 a.m. The event will feature 15 to 20 community nonprofit agencies covering topics including mental health and wellness, substance use disorders, community resources, wellness, and recovery. The fair also features a presentation on the opioid crisis, fentanyl, overdoses, and how to save a life with naloxone. No registration is required. Contact Frances McKinney at (805) 569-7471 or [email protected] for more information.
Reach Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor at [email protected].