Kamloops bested Kelowna in last year’s Coldest Night of the Year, but there was one small caveat — there was no rivalry.
This year, organizers hoping to build participation in the winter-walk events — part of a national fundraising campaign in support of the hungry, homeless and hurting — have challenged each other.
Kelowna’s Gospel Mission and Kamloops’ New Life Mission will “face off” against each other to see which city’s event attracts the greatest participation.
“Taking our inspiration from the WHL standings, we want to meet or beat their turnout,” said Jessica Samuels, event co-ordinator with the Kelowna mission.
“Kelowna walkers can take their inspiration from the Rockets. We’re beating Kamloops in the WHL standings. I’m confident we can beat them in this contest, too.”
Stan Dueck, executive director at New Life Mission, sees the challenge as a great fit.
“There has always been a good-natured rivalry that exists between Kamloops and Kelowna, whether it’s WHL hockey or something else,” he said.
“It was Stan’s idea,” Samuels said from Kelowna. “He called me and, of course, with my competitive nature, I took him up on it.”
The Interior cities are two of 38 communities across Canada participating in the event.
Taking place Feb. 23, Coldest Night of the Year is a non-competitive five- and 10-kilometre walk. Part of the idea is to provide participants an opportunity to experience a hint of the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness. Sporting bright-yellow T-shirts, they’ll also help to draw public attention to the issues at hand.
This is the second year both cities have hosted events. Last year, Kelowna’s attracted 115 participants and raised more than $20,000. Kamloops drew twice that many participants and raised more than $34,000.
“When the numbers come down to it, they did beat us in that aspect,” Samuels reluctantly admitted, playing up the rivalry.
New Life Mission has set a goal this year of $40,000, while the Gospel Mission and its 30K Club are aiming for $30,000.
It’s not about the dollar sums, though. And it’s not about making light of a serious issue, Samuels said.
“The whole idea is that we get more people talking about it, we get more walkers and we raise more money for the homeless, hungry and hurting.”
Samuels and Dueck haven’t even met one another, but they share similar goals.
“Perhaps, when we beat them in this, I’ll meet, if only to gloat in person,” she said.
Funds raised through pledges in Kamloops will support mission programs for substance-abuse recovery, health care and counselling as well as its hot lunch program.
Registration can be done online at coldestnightoftheyear.org. Select Kamloops, agree to the waiver and choose Create a Team. Then pick the New Life Mission as the charity and start gathering pledges.
The Kamloops walk begins and ends at the mission, 181 Victoria St. Walkers register there, submit the results of their efforts and enjoy a warm meal after the five-or 10-km walk.