Three local realtors are setting out on a 100 km trek in Ecuador to raise money for Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis.
Andra Arnold has raised $8,500 so far and this is her first time doing a trek like this. Lynn Weller and Michael Christie teamed up and have raised $45,000.
The event is part of an annual fundraiser by Royal LePage realty.
Eighty per cent of what they raise stays in the community and goes to GWWIC and 20 per cent goes back to the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. The foundation hosts fundraising events across the country.
In 2021 Weller hiked the Purcell mountains in B.C. and raised $20,000. “I was challenged physically, emotionally, psychologically. I mean, the trek itself was very difficult. Emotionally, highs, lows, positives, negatives,” said Weller.
“The women that are recipients of the funds that we raise these women face those fears and challenges every single day, I faced it for five days,” she said. This is why she decided to take on a new trek climbing an active volcano in Ecuador.
Although Arnold, Weller, and Christie will be climbing the same volcano they will be doing so on different days in November in separate groups of hikers.
On Wednesday Arnold will be the new board director for GWWIC so the cause hits close to home. “It's just one of those organizations that is fundamental to our being as a city and the work that they do,” said Arnold.
“I'm not gonna lie, I'm petrified. I don't want to sleep on the ground,” she said. “But really, it's about raising awareness for our organization.” GWWIC provides more than just an emergency shelter for women “the services they provide in our community are imperative,” Arnold said.
Weller said it’s hard to prepare for the trek because Ontario is flat. “We don't have trails that we can go on that get us to high elevation,” she said.
For her it’s about distance. Getting kilometres in on a daily basis and increasing her cardio is her way to prepare.
“To be perfectly honest I don't think that anything's going to prepare me for it. But I'll get there,” said Arnold. She completed a 7km hike in an hour and 20 minutes on Sunday.
“Let yourself be vulnerable. Because you need to be a leader, you also need to be a supporter in all of this,” said Weller.
“My … vision that I had was that I relate to what I physically did on the trek versus how this equates to life because the terrain was so uneven we would be going one step at a time,” she said.
On her previous trek she had to look for the best pathway going forward. “You need somebody ahead of you to guide you, but you're also leading somebody behind you,” she said.
Arnold and Weller both described intimate partner violence as an epidemic in the country.
“It's insidious, and it is part of our norm, and absolutely should not be. And the fact that we have to do this is devastating in itself,” said Arnold.
Her goal isn’t just completing the trek in Ecuador come November but making sure GWWIC is talked about in every household in Guelph and Wellington County because there needs to be a change in our community.
“It is close to home. So many people are suffering silently and we want to change that,” said Weller.