Campus to Campus Fundraising Walk 2
His recovery could take several months or possily even years, which places a huge financial strain on the Bakers in addition to their more pressing concerns about Gary's health. I've known Gary and his family - many of whom are, or have been, OC students - for several years now. They are exceptional folks, and ever since I heard about the accident I have been moved by a deep sense of compassion and solidarity to want to do something to help make their lives a little easier while they deal with this tragedy.
So, I am going to try to walk between the Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, and Salmon Arm campuses of Okanagan College (160 kilometres) in only three days—setting out from the Penticton campus on the morning of Tuesday August 30th and (hopefully!) arriving at the Salmon Arm campus late on September 1st.
Although I am a keen hiker, I will average 55 kilometres per day during this fundraising walk, a distance considerably greater than I have ever walked in a single day, and I will try very hard indeed to do that for three days in a row. I will be posting photographs of my progress every few hours on the "Campus to Campus Fundraising Walk" Facebook page so sponsors can follow along the way.
My goal is to raise $3200 or more, which works out to $20 for each kilometre that I walk. Every dollar of sponsorship that you provide will go directly to the Baker family to help them cover their daily living expenses while they help Gary fight his way back to good health.
My experience has always been that my friends, my family and my colleagues in the Okanagan College community are generous and understand that we are obliged to help those who need our help if we are able to do so. I hope you will consider sponsoring me so that together we can do something to help this young family in their hour of great need.
So I just wanted to offer a huge and heartfelt thanks to you all for your unbelievable support in this crazy venture. When I got the idea to do this walk a little over a week ago, the initial goal was to raise $3600 to help out the Baker family, which seemed wildly ambitious to me at the time. Instead, we have collectively raised a really quite amazing $11,025. I’ll be leaving the donation page open for a few more days since several people have told me they’d still like to help out, and will then be e-transferring that money directly to the Bakers to help them with the expenses associated with dealing with Gary’s terrible injury. Give yourselves a massive and well-deserved pat on the back: this really was an incredible display of solidarity and generosity from each and every one of you.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t extend some special words of thanks, since while it seemed like you were just sponsoring one person doing a really long walk all by himself, the reality is that none of this could have happened had I not been surrounded by remarkably kind people who were positively eager to volunteer their time and energy: who gave me lots of great promotional and technical advice when I was planning the hike, who drove me to and from my start points, who helped me get back on track when I was horribly lost, who drove out to meet me on the trail, to walk with me or bring me supplies, who fed me beautiful food and supplied liquid energy and put me up in their homes at night and cleaned my filthy clothes and entertained me. You know who you are, and hopefully you all know how great I think you are, and how much your friendship means to me.
A massive shout out is also due to all of you who provided what turned out to be absolutely necessary moral support, which really did keep me going when my legs were telling me to do anything but. I was constantly bombarded by heartening facebook posts, supportive texts, phone and FaceTime calls from far and wide, all of which I needed more than might have seemed apparent. Each day I was sent off from one campus with words of encouragement from my incredible friends and colleagues in the Okanagan College community, and each day when I arrived at the next one folks were there to greet me and cheer me on, culminating with crowds of well-wishers holding a giant “Way to go, Tim!” sign at both the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. Amazing. I knew that all of the folks that work at Okanagan College from the President on down would rally around one of our students in a time of need, because I’m lucky enough to see an awful lot of that kind of thing because of who I get work alongside each day, but to see that generosity unfold in actuality in this case was really quite something to behold.
And to cap off what was already a pretty incredible and humbling adventure, the good people at the Village West Urban Market threw a phenomenal arrival party/ fundraiser for my friends and I when I landed, with live music and great food and my favourite beer on tap. I thought I was going to be desperately exhausted by this walk, but the truth is that by the time this thing ended, I really didn’t want it to.
Final thoughts: I get the impression that experiences like this are supposed to teach you something. I suppose I learned that it is indeed possible to walk from Penticton to Salmon Arm in three days, which is rather too particular an insight to be all that useful. I learned that I love to walk, like really love to walk, but I already knew that, and I got to deepen my sense that we live in a hypnotically beautiful part of the world, but I knew that too. Ultimately, though, this whole thing was really just about wanting to do something to help out Gary Baker and his family in their hour of need, and I tried always to keep that front of mind. So when I was walking I spent a lot of time thinking about how, despite appearances to the contrary, our seemingly sturdy bodies are a good deal more fragile and our well assembled lives a lot more precarious than they appear. We are all a burst blood vessel away from a world of hurt and pain. And while this reality is inherent to the human condition, I also spent a lot of time thinking about how this precariousness is unevenly distributed, so some people are much more vulnerable than others, more prone to more kinds of suffering than others, and that is a terrible thing that we can and must do more about.
What I will ultimately remember about all of this, though, is that more people were a lot kinder than I thought possible: all of those who helped me finish this walk without a second thought, those who sent kind words of support from all over the world, those who donated, especially when I know they don’t have much to spare. And the moment that best summed up this challenge to my misanthropic worldview was when I was about halfway between Vernon and Salmon Arm, pushing to the party at the finish line, and an older gentleman in a pick-up truck pulled up alongside me and asked if I was the guy he had heard being interviewed on CBC radio earlier, the one doing the long fundraising walk. He didn’t know Gary or his family, he didn’t know me, but he wanted to help, and he had prepared me a little goodie bag with a nectarine, some homemade fudge and some delicious cake his wife had made, along with a cheque for the Baker family. As I was plodding along, kindnesses like this happened all the time, with a regularity that consistently blew me away, and that is what I learned: more people are more kind, and more compassionate, and more motivated by righteous solidarity than I could possibly have imagined. And that, my friends, is good to know.
Yours in gratitude,
Update!: day 2 of 3 is done like dinner. Am feeling fairly sore and ragged, but got a great welcome at the Vernon OC campus when I arrived a few hours ago and so am ready to roll again in the morning. Tomorrow is my longest day yet (63k) so I'm aiming for a 7am start as I head up the valley to Salmon Arm. The support and encouragement you've all been sending has been what's kept me going through this adventure, and I'd like to invite you all to join me for a drink at the end of this slog. My pals at the Village West Urban Market have generously agreed to make a donation to this campaign at the end of the trek to anyone who shows up. And I'd like to buy every one of you who sponsored me a drink to thank you for getting me through this. I hope you're able to come out for a pint or a glass of wine on their beautiful patio. Event details are here:
As ever, I'll be posting hourly updates to the facebook page tomorrow once I hit the road.
Thanks again, everyone.
Best of luck on your final leg, Tim! Continued prayers for the Baker family.
Wow awesome job !! What an amazing and kind hearted thing to do Tim :) had you in first year years ago . Fight club was on the reading list ! Hope you get to your goal