By Stephen Sedgwick-Williams
A Jewish community centre and synagogue located in Westboro, Young Israel of Ottawa, held the 75 km challenge on Oct. 19 in order to raise funds to upgrade its building. Among the participants were Algonquin ITS support staff Graeme Kent and first-year police foundations student Richard Pearce.
“The building is kind of ancient and needs some serious renovations done. We did this walk last year and we fixed up the kids’ play-place,” said Kent. “We’re focusing on the bathrooms this year. Everyone uses bathrooms, so it helps the world.”
The 75 km walk was one of three events held by the Young Israel of Ottawa over the Oct. 19 weekend in addition to a 7.5 km walk, for those members who were younger or unable to make the longer walk, and a free barbeque afterwards.
“Last year was the first year, we were trying to do something out of the box, a little crazy, to encourage the community to support a good cause and something that was doable yet a little on the extreme side,” said Gavriel Scarowsky, event coordinator. “It created a lot of positive hype and energy and resulted in a lot of both financial support and volunteerism in the community.”
Kent went with his brother, Michael Kent, a graduate student at University of Ottawa, who had introduced him to it last year.
“I started watching the guys who did it and they seemed to have a lot of fun, so I thought this year I’d give it a try,” said Michael. “It was just nice to sort of take a challenge, set my mind to it, take a couple of months of serious training of figuring out what I need to do this and actually set a goal and work towards it and hopefully pull through it tonight.”
Unfortunately, the challenge suffered from poor weather, as it began pouring half way through the first lap which put a stop to the event for the night. Some of the participants resumed their walk the next day when weather was better.
“I think that exceeded expectations considering the weather. I think hopefully next year we’ll do it a little earlier in the year so it will be more feasible,” Scarowsky said. “It’s just challenging with the poor weather to run in the cold. But I think everyone was still in good spirits even though nobody actually hit the 75 km mark.”
Among those that kept going were Rabbi Galandauer who walked 40 km, as well as Graeme and Michael who walked 53 km, an increase from their 42 km the previous year. They raised $200 for the synagogue. Both plan on returning next year.
“I hope this will be an annual thing,” Scarowsky said. “We’ve had a lot of success and a lot of community-building through the event so yeah, I look forwards to next year’s event and who knows, it might just be 100 km.”