July 16th, 2024

Walkers hit the course for Coldest Night of the Year

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on March 1, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf joins a group of walkers as they hit the trail at the Lethbridge Streets Alive Mission Coldest Night of the Year Day Saturday at the Land-O-Lakes Golf and Country Club in Coaldale.

On Saturday at the Land-O-Lakes Golf and Country Club, nearly 250 walkers hit the trail for a brisk afternoon walk.
But this particular walk was to put the participants in somebody else’s shoes as the Streets Alive Mission-hosted 11th Annual Coldest Night of the Year took place.
While the roughly 250 walkers, 35 teams and 30 volunteers dealt with a southern Alberta breeze that made things a bit chilly on the trail, the intent of the fundraising event was to remind people what the homeless have to deal with when the mercury plummets during the winter months. 
“It’s to raise awareness,” said Ken Kissick, co-founder of Streets Alive Mission. “If you come out and walk (Saturday), it’s a little windy. It’s plus-five and it feels like probably minus-three or four. But you’ll be in this weather for maybe an hour. But we have people who will be in this weather all day today. And when it was -20, they were in it, five, six or seven hours. So you get pretty chilled.
“But they don’t choose to be there. So we want to raise awareness and we need the community’s help to provide the support programs to not only get them off the street and into something warm, but to get them back into a life where they don’t have to be on the street.”
Walkers headed out every 30 minutes starting at 10 a.m. with the last group leaving the clubhouse at 4 p.m. Participants were able to choose between the 2km or 5km walk.
“We’ve always believed this is a good event and we need to keep the plight of those who are less fortunate, those who are homeless and those who are addicted in front of the people and this is one of the events that does it,” said Kissick. The goal this year was to raise $70,000 and by the end of the weekend that had been surpassed with $70,600 raised. The money goes into different Streets Alive Mission programs, such as mission, trusteeship, recovery and housing, said Kissick. “All of those are designed to help people recover their lives and return to something some of us might call normal, but really, we want to give them a hand up.”
With the $70,000 goal already exceeded, people can still walk virtually and collect money for 30 more days by visiting http://www.streetsalive.ca and looking into donating.
“You can still do it,” said Kissick. “You can sign up and it’s a walk wherever. Walk around the mall, do whatever.”
When it was first held 11 years ago, Coldest Night of the Year drew about 25 walkers.
“So 10 times the number of people has gotten involved,” said Kissick. “So it has become a very good event.
“We’re grateful to Land-O-Lakes because one of the things we’re doing that other communities don’t have the opportunity to do is make this a family friendly event. So we’ve seen lots of families out with very small children. They can come because they’re safe. They don’t have to cross any roads, they’re not walking where there’s traffic. We’re just out here having a very good time and walking and they’re able to do it as a family. So for us, this is win-win all the way around for the communities. Taber is doing really well with theirs, so it’s really great.”
Taking part in her first Coldest Night of the Year, Doreen Lloyd was the oldest participant at 75.
A resident of Coaldale who lives right on the Land-O-Lakes Golf and Country Club, Lloyd didn’t have to look too far to see last year’s event.
“Just watching it last year from my back door, I decided I’m doing that (this) year.”
Taking part in the walk gives the participant a different perspective, said Lloyd, who walks for about an hour every day.
“We’re complaining about being out in this cold for an hour and you think ‘OK, people are doing this all night.’ It just makes you appreciate what you have and want to help other people.”
The wind on Saturday certainly cooled things off.
“It was cold, the wind was very cold and the path was icy,” said Lloyd. “You had to be watching where you walked all the time.”
With the 11th Coldest Night of the Year completed, the event won’t be stopping anytime soon, said Kissick.
“We’ll have a bigger goal for next year and away we go.”

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