While hiking and camping are popular pastimes, to go 168 kilometres through the backcountry is not something the average hiker likely sets out to do.
But in August, that’s exactly what eight West Shore firefighters are going to be doing, and to top it off, they plan on doing 22 pushups every hour on the hour while wearing 20-pound packs, over what’s expected to be a two-day, relay-type journey.
The backcountry trek from Canmore to Kananaskis, Alta. is part of a fundraising effort in support of Wounded Warriors Canada, said organizer and View Royal firefighter Jen Dale, and as it gets closer and closer, there is a mixture of excitement and nerves in the air.
“I’m super excited, the team we’ve got is such a solid group of people, we have all grown really close over this fundraising period,” said Dale. “I’m nervous because it is a big task, but more than anything, I am super excited to go and spend this quality time with the team and push ourselves while still having fun.”
For Dale, organizing and participating in the trek has dual importance for her. Thanks to a gender-balanced team of firefighters featuring four women and four men, she said the event will help show young women and girls they too can work in a challenging job which remains very male-dominated and will hopefully encourage them to never shy away from doing something just because they are told women can’t make the cut.
Secondly, it is a challenge that will show the importance of Wounded Warriors’ mission of raising awareness and providing mental health support across Canada to military veterans, first responders, and their families.
“It’s about showing people through your actions, that you want change to happen, that’s what this walk really is for me,” said Dale. “It’s about stepping up to show people I want there to be resources in place for my brothers and sisters who have struggles with mental health.”
Those 22 pushups Dale and the team will be doing hourly on their trek is a powerful symbol of the importance of Wounded Warriors’ mission. She said it is the number of veterans and first responders who die by suicide each day in the U.S.
The team has a fundraising goal of $10,000 this year, and Dale said they have already raised nearly $7,000 since she started fundraising in March. To help push them to their goal ahead of the trek, they are going to be hosting a fundraiser car wash at the Colwood fire hall on July 17.
Crews from the West Shore departments will be on hand, and all washes will be by donation.
Cash donations will be accepted on site, while credit or debit donations can be made at woundedwarriors.ca at any time.
Online donations over $25 are eligible for a tax receipt.