The Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser for Choose Life Ministry on Saturday in Estevan proved to be a hit.
A total of nine teams and 55 participants registered. The Estevan Leisure Centre served as the start-finish line for the event, with participants given the option of walking two or five kilometres. Most of the walk occurred in south Estevan.
Rather than having everybody start at once, walkers were sent off every few minutes in groups of 10, in order to allow for social distancing.
Choose Life founder Shelley Boyes pointed out that two teams from Manitoba did the walk in that province, and one participant walked in B.C.
The Coldest Night of the Year wound up raising more than $17,000 for Choose Life, and donations can be made until March 31.
“It was an amazing event,” said Boyes. “Participation was great and the weather was great, and everybody seemed to enjoy the event.”
Some of the participants walked as individuals or as couples.
Walkers received a Coldest Night of the Year mask. Those who raised at least $150 received a toque and those who cleared $1,000 received a button.
Had the event happened a week earlier, it might have occurred on the coldest night of the year, thanks to the extreme cold that gripped southeast Saskatchewan for much of the first half of the month.
But the temperatures have warmed up considerably in the southeast in recent days, and Boyes is thankful for that.
The Coldest Night of the Year is a nationwide effort to create awareness of the challenges facing the homeless, the hungry and the hurting during the winter months.
“When we’re out on the streets in February, walking, (it helps us) just to see what these people go through in trying to survive when it’s the coldest night of the year,” said Boyes.
She expects that Choose Life will offer a Coldest Night of the Year walk in Estevan again next year.
“People were really excited about the event and about expanding next year, and we’ve already had people say they would join again next year,” said Boyes.
The money raised will go to Choose Life Ministry’s programs at the Homestead for Hope. The homestead is located in an old stone house in the Gainsborough area, where young women receive treatment for life-controlling issues.
Those looking to support Choose Life through Coldest Night of the Year can visit cnoy.org.