Sunday, October 19, 2014

Not precisely the 15 minutes of fame I might have hoped for!

By the time he reached the end of his mile long walk Saturday morning, Rich Landriault wasn't sure he was going to make it.

It wasn't just that his feet hurt. Every muscle in his body ached.

"Everything hurts," the Hamilton man said, moments after finishing his tour around the Pen Centre shopping mall as part of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to support the Gillian's Place Women's Shelter. "That was so much more difficult than I expected. It's like a workout."

Landriault came to St. Catharines to join the team of walkers put together by Tory Gillespie of Thorold to raise money for the sheller.

Gillespie said he put together his group, called Judy's Gentlemen, for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes because his mother-in-law had been a victim of domestic abuse, and supporting the shelter was a way to show solidarity with her.

Judy's Gentlemen, along with a host of other teams and individual men who donned high heels to march around the mall, raised more than $86,000 for the shelter.

Community development manager for Gillian's Place, Nicole Regehr said the funds will allow the shelter to keep operating. The facility is only 80% funded by government sources, leaving Gillian's Place to fundraise the remaining 20%. However, Gillian's Place is the midst of a five year funding freeze, making the Walk a Mile event, it's largest fundraising effort, all the more important.

"We have a funding freeze, but costs keep going up for everything. So this is absolutely vital. When someone comes to the shelter and hits a light switch, the lights have to come on. We have to feed 30 plus women and children every day," she said. "So we have to include this fundraised money in our budget. Without it, we couldn't operate."

The total for Saturday's event was down from last year's $125,000. But Regehr said 2013 may have been an anomaly.

"We were aiming for $120,000 but it may be that we blew the roof off it last year, and it is difficult to reproduce that every year," she said. "The $86,000 is in line with what we raised in 2012."

The 40 member team from TD Canada Trust raised the most money of any participating team, bringing in more than $30,000.

The St. Catharines Standard team was a distant second, with more than $5,000, most of which was raised by publisher Mark Cressman, who raised the most of any individual who took part.

Event emcee and radio personality Tim Denis, said the unfortunate reality was that Walk a Mile was such a necessary charity, but that the ongoing support for the event was heartening.

"Your support means a woman in crisis will have a place to turn to if she needs it," he said. "And your being here is saying to them that they are not alone."

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