There was a look of excitement and fear in the eyes of those signed up to climb about 1

Storm the Stairs: A good sweat for a good cause

United Way reaches campaign kickoff goal, doubles money raised last year.

It was a trip or rather a climb up memory lane for about two dozen people who laced up for the United Way Trail and District’s Storm the Stairs event Saturday.

Executive director Naomi McKimmie was floored by the results Monday, as she counted nearly $5,750 raised, double last year’s traditional Day in the Park.

Top fundraisers included Sandi MacArthur, who brought in $1,050, Tara DeJong at $465 and Brenda Sukkau, coming in at $425.

“The event went great,” said McKimmie. “We were very happy with the day’s results. The block party wasn’t as well-attended as we’d hoped, but that’s due to holding it the same weekend as Golden City Days.”

Weaving through West Trail via the iconic covered stairs and running or walking four kilometres in between proved to be difficult but short lived for participants, who were heated up and some even raring to go again.

Trail’s Jen Dickson didn’t have time to catch her breath because she had a ball tournament to get to right after completing the organization’s campaign kickoff event. Funds raised will be invested in local programs and services through the 2015 Campaign Fund. And for many, helping an organization that backs so many in the community was reason enough to sign up.

“I haven’t done the course before, so I was a little worried about the stairs but at least as many stairs you go up, you get to do down,” said Dickson.

There were about 1,500 stairs to be precise, but that didn’t slow down Dickson, who was among the first three to arrive back at the Piazza Colombo Park. Mathew Coyne of the Take a Hike program and Mike Kent of the Rossland Youth Action Network joined her for water and a celebratory banner photo.

“I’ve heard of the iconic stairs while I’ve been here and had yet to actually see them all or let alone run them, so this was a really neat experience for me to be here in Trail for this,” said Coyne, a Vancouver resident visiting Trail for the program’s start of the school year.

The money received from the United Way, he said, covers the costs that fall outside the responsibilities of School District 20 and the Ministry of Education.

“(The funding) supports a full-time therapist, who works with our students and some of the challenges they may face in their young lives, as well as some of activities involved in the adventure-base learning (equipment and supplies),” he added.

“It really is a community partnership and without organizations like the United Way, it’s very difficult for us to support the program,” he explained. “But we’ve received great support from the United Way and many other organizations like Kootenay Savings, Atco Wood Products and a variety of others so we’re extremely grateful and pleased that the community of Trail and the broader community is supporting the Take a Hike program.”

Kent sported a T-shirt, boasting the online fundraising platform that United Way used for the event.

“Being local and having worked with Naomi lots on other projects through other hats I wear, I wanted to come out and support what they’re doing and see how it worked for them,” he said.

He was headed up to Golden City Days next to man the Rossland Youth Action Network table at the Fall Fair.

It didn’t take long for the rest of the crowd to trickle into the park. Helen Bobbitt was feeling good but was left wanting more. The Trail woman does the stairs on her lunch hour and hopes that next time the route will expand further into West Trail.

“You’re geared up when you look at that map because it looks scary but then once you do it, you’re good,” she said.

Storm the Stairs kicked off campaign month, which also includes Park-With-Us, held Sept. 24. The annual drive has the City of Trail waiving parking fees for downtown, which allows the United Way to sell meter signage to donors. A BBQ will also be held at the organization’s office (855 Farwell St.) downtown from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that day.

Photos: About 20 participants gathered at the Piazza Colombo Park Saturday to show their support to the Trail and District United Way by taking the fun run or walk challenge. Participants like River Jones collected pledges before lacing up and climbing 1,500 stairs and running four kilometres through West Trail. Jen Dickson, Matthew Coyne and Mike Kent were the first to arrive back to the park to hydrate. Volunteer Monty McGale was waiting with a smile and cold water in hand while city councillor and volunteer extraordinaire Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson kept busy removing bibs from participants’ backs.

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