Alex Sheppard, Damon Pedersen, Liam Downey, and Tim Berntsen of UVic’s Engineering Students Student get ready to push a hollowed-out 1972 VW Beetle during the Bug Push raising funds for the United Way of Greater Victoria. Teams raise funds by pushing the vehicle around UVic’s 2.2-km-long Ring Road. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Alex Sheppard, Damon Pedersen, Liam Downey, and Tim Berntsen of UVic’s Engineering Students Student get ready to push a hollowed-out 1972 VW Beetle during the Bug Push raising funds for the United Way of Greater Victoria. Teams raise funds by pushing the vehicle around UVic’s 2.2-km-long Ring Road. Wolf Depner/News Staff

UVic bugs out during big push for United Way

Teams of UVic students, faculty and staff test stamina by pushing a 1972 VW Beetle around Ring Road.

Just before 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Alex Sheppard, Liam Downey, Tim Berntsen, and Damon Pedersen gathered outside the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria.

The quartet wore matching blue T-shirts commemorating a social event and hard hats as good aspiring engineers would. Only Berntsen broke this team spirit by wearing long pants rather than shorts.

“He didn’t get the memo,” dead-panned Pedersen.

Berntsen’s wardrobe choice was not inappropriate, at least at that time.

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A dome of crisp, cold air hung over the campus Sunday morning, and both Sheppard and Downey visibly shivered under the tent the Engineering Students Society (ESS) had set up.

“I’m in pain,” said Sheppard, while moving for warmth.

Their colleague Dalton Braun, meanwhile, put the finishing touches on an iconic fundraising event that returned to UVic after a year’s absence — the Bug Push for United Way.

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The idea behind sounds as silly as it is simple: groups of four push a hollowed-out 1972 VW Beetle around UVic’s 2.2-km long Ring Road for half an hour to raise funds for the United Way of Greater Victoria, with the goal of keeping the bug rolling for 12 hours straight.

It did not happen last year, because of insurance issues and concerns from campus security, said Braun. But it returned this year with at least six registered teams, and in years past the event raised close to $2,000.

“It’s also a fun event, where you can build team spirit,” said Braun.

Sheppard and Co. certainly displayed that team spirit, and launched into their ride around the ring with hoots and hollers, their hard hats donned with Viking horns and other personal touches. One completed circuit later though, they looked much more focused, if not straining, and likely much warmer.


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wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com