It started more than a year ago with a call for participants and ended in late August at the historic lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Tears of joy and exhaustion combined with laughter, hugs and high fives at the end of eight days of a physically and emotionally demanding endeavour that brought 60 Royal LePage agents, staff and family members from across Canada to take part in a Peruvian journey.
“When the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation first introduced this unique fundraising initiative, the response was immediate and overwhelming,” says Shanan Spencer-Brown, executive director of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. “Royal LePagers from across Canada took on the challenge of raising $5,000 each to support local women’s shelters along with preparing for the physical demands of hiking long days at high altitude.”
The trek raised more than $480,000 for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.
Along the way, each group of approximately 20 trekkers learned as much about themselves as they did each other, while enduring headaches and nausea from the extreme elevation, cold nights shivering in tents and grueling days of climbing through the mountains of the Lares Valley and along the famed Inca Trail. “Most of us were surprised by how truly challenging the trek was,” says Spencer-Brown. “Many of us required the help of our group doctor, who traveled with us to provide oxygen, medications and first aid.”
Many participants raised much more than the minimum fundraising required. The top individual fundraiser, Loretta Phinney from Mississauga, raised more than $40,000. The top team fundraisers, David Halls and his spouse Robin-Lee Norris from Guelph, raised more than $32,000. Many others set a goal of raising double the minimum amount, reaching $10,000 or more before departing for Peru.
Along with the beauty of the landscape and the awe-inspiring scenes of Machu Picchu, spending time with her fellow trekkers was another highlight for Spencer-Brown. “We came together as strangers, we left as family. The power of supporting one another through the more difficult moments and celebrating our collective achievements is what made this experience so unique.”