Vernon 9Round Fitness owners Mily and Ralph Buisine announced Monday, May 25, they are permanently closing the Vernon Square Mall facility due to COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

Fundraiser launched to support Vernon gym owners forced to close amid COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announced permanent closure of facility May 25

A Vernon resident has kicked off a fundraiser to support two local business owners forced to shut the doors under the pressures of COVID-19.

9Round Fitness owners Ralph and Mily Buisine alerted members May 25 they are permanently closing as a result of the pandemic and less than 24-hours later, Vernonite Jacqueline Barnett started a GoFundMe campaign to support the Buisines in this time of transition.

The Buisines have only been in Vernon for the past three years, the GoFundMe page reads, but they’ve left a mark and the fundraiser organizer said the hardships don’t stop at the business doors.

The gym closure was a “devastating blow for the Vernon community,” the organizer wrote. “However, Mily and Ralph also face the possibility of having to leave Canada following their business’s closing.”

Barnett said she would love to raise enough to support the reopening of the 9Round, but she recognizes that’s “unlikely.”

“Instead, I want to provide the Vernon people with an opportunity to help these individuals who have given so much of themselves to this small community, who have made so many of us healthier and happier through their support,” Barnett wrote.

“Mily and Ralph have a unique way of making you feel like family,” Barnett wrote. “Outside of the gym, Mily and Ralph have taken part in several philanthropic activities within the community.”

Barnett points to the generosity the Buisines have shown from food and toy donations to the Salvation Army to fundraising for H.O.P.E. (Helping Out People Exploited).

“Mily and Ralph have aimed to make Vernon a better community for everyone since coming here.”

The GoFundMe campaign has a $5,000 goal.

“I know times are difficult for everyone right now,” Barnett wrote. “But every dollar makes a difference.”

READ MORE: Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

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