Last year, 43 participants took part in the United Way Trail and District’s Storm the Stairs fun run. Smoke from wildfires and heat led the organization to push the event back three weeks to Sept. 23. For more information, uwtraildistrict.org or visit the Facebook event page. (Jim Bailey photo)

Smoky hot summer delays Trail fun run until Sept. 23

United Way Trail and District directs STS proceeds into 15 Trail and Greater Area community causes

Smoke and heat have forced organizers to take a three-week step back for this year’s Storm the Stairs fundraiser.

“Due to this summer’s high temperatures and heavy smoke in the valley from the wildfires throughout the province, the Special Events Committee and board have decided to move ‘Storm the Stairs,’” says Executive Director Naomi McKimmie from host group, the United Way Trail and District.

“It is felt by all that this is best for the health and well-being of all participants and volunteers of the event.”

The fun run is now set for Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Colombo Lodge Piazza instead of the previously scheduled Sept. 2 date. That means participants have three extra weeks to limber up and gather pledges before the day of the event, which will begin with registration from 8-8:45 a.m. before a 9 a.m. start.

Each participant is asked to raise at least as much as the sign up cost, which is $50 per adult, $25 per youth ages 14 to 18, and for teams of three to five members, $45 per adult or $20 per individual youth.

“Because this is a fundraiser, we are asking that each participant raise a minimum matching amount to their registration fee,” McKimmie added. “Once participants are all back, we will have a small ceremony for the top fundraisers as we have done in past years, there will be healthy snacks and water, and participants will receive their swag bags.”

This is the third year the United Way fundraising challenge is asking the community to work up a sweat for Greater Trail causes – but this time, a new element and new scenic views will be added to the already picturesque surroundings of West Trail staircases.

The Columbia River Skywalk has become a feature in the Grande Route, which over seven kilometres (km), includes 19 staircases or approximately 1618 steps.

The other option is the Express Route, a four-km pathway through West Trail which doesn’t incorporate the city bridges but includes 18 staircases or about 1495 steps.

McKimmie pointed out, for those who use fitness trackers, actual distances are dependent upon speed of steps and length of stride, so the Grande may calculate up to 7.5 km.

Steps and fundraising goals aside, Storm the Stairs will lead participants – maybe even some first timers – through the city’s most charming neighbourhoods.

“While enjoying this challenge, runner and walkers alike experience some of the most scenic views of the Columbia River and Rock Walls of historic West Trail,” said McKimmie. “There are beautiful views from up there of the river valley and community.”

The event’s fundraising goal is $10,000, so organizers are hoping to double the number of participants and pledges from last year because all proceeds are directed back into local goodwill.

“Funds from STS (Storm the Stairs) will go into our annual campaign fund, serving the communities of Rossland, Warfield, Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale, as well as Areas A and B of the regional district, ” said McKimmie. “Monies raised last year helped support 15 different organizations that are supplying 21 programs throughout those communities.”

“All That Kids Can Be, From Poverty to Possibility, and Healthy People, Strong Communities,” are the mantras the United Way Trail and District incorporates into giving.

Feeding the needy, an access fund for emergency dental care and the Extreme Weather Shelter are just three local causes assisted by the organization’s annual campaign.

“One of the biggest things we’ve been really helping to support is the United Church food bank,” McKimmie mentioned. “On average, they are getting anywhere from 120 to 130-plus people … that’s weekly (volunteer-run by donations, three Tuesdays a month).”

McKimmie encourages Trail and surrounding communities to come out on Sept. 23 because the run is not competitive in terms of time or endurance – raising money for local resources is what counts.

And, of course, ‘Storm the Stairs’ promotes a healthy and social activity.

“Now you have six weeks to get ready, so start slowly,” she suggested, mentioning her pledge to complete the route 19 times before the day-of and raise $1,000.

“That’s what I did when I started … I had to stop four times going up the Topping Street staircase at first … now I can walk the whole route in about an hour and 30 minutes.”

For more information, visit the United Way Trail and District website at uwtraildistrict.org or call McKimmie during business hours Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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