The trekkers worked hard and were rewarded with beautiful sights but also the knowledge that they are bringing safety and hope to abused women and children across Canada
In July, a group of 82 Royal LePage agents and broker/owners from across Canada along with Royal LePage President, Phil Soper, and Royal LePage Shelter Foundation staff, Shanan Spencer-Brown and Carly Neill, traveled across the North Atlantic Ocean to take part in the Iceland Challenge for Shelter. Modeled after the Shelter Foundation’s first international trekking fundraiser in 2015 which took participants to Machu Picchu in Peru, the Iceland Challenge for Shelter required participants to raise a minimum of $5,000, cover their own travel costs, and improve their level of fitness to be prepared for the physical demands of the trek. Before heading out on the trek many of the participants were anticipating a strenuous 100 km hike on relatively flat ground. Very quickly, their eyes were opened to the true task that lay ahead!
What they ended up accomplishing was an incredible 115 km trek over 5 days across some of Iceland’s most scenic and gruelling terrain. Participants hiked over sand, rock, lava fields and snowy glaciers. They climbed and descended steep hills, braved narrow passes and rickety bridges, and walked through icy rivers with water up to their thighs. They camped in tents they pitched themselves each night, did without daily showers, and turned off their cell phones for 5 straight days.
“When we first launched the Iceland Challenge for Shelter, we knew there would be great interest in this event. However, we couldn’t have predicted how successful our trekkers would be with their fundraising efforts or how strongly they would bond with each other during the journey.” said Phil Soper, President of Royal LePage. “It was a privilege and a pleasure for me to personally take part in this unique and challenging experience and to see the incredible spirit of giving among my fellow trekkers and directed to our foundation.”
Throughout the trek, participants demonstrated tremendous courage, perseverance in the face of pain and exhaustion, and great kindness to one another. Trekkers shared gear, carried each other’s backpacks and helped one another through dehydration, injury and emotional lows. They cheered for those who thought they couldn’t walk another step, gave hugs to those shedding a few tears, and offered love and support to each other as the team got closer and closer to reaching the finish line. Along the way, they were rewarded with sights of raw beauty like rushing waterfalls, majestic volcanoes and galloping Icelandic horses.
“I was in awe of the level of commitment our trekkers displayed when faced with hiking extremely long distances, experiencing exhaustion, extreme heights at times, and often punishing terrain. They pushed themselves to the limits and they supported each other.” said Shanan Spencer-Brown, Executive Director of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. “Like others, I was physically drained and experienced a few scrapes and bruises along the way, but that’s nothing compared to what women and children living with abuse experience on a daily basis, often with no end in sight. Thankfully, the women’s shelters we are funding through this initiative provide that light at the end of a dark tunnel.”
This dedicated group of fundraisers collected over $655,000 for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation making the Iceland Challenge for Shelter the charity’s largest fundraiser of all time. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be directed to the women’s shelter in each trekker’s community and to national initiatives to break the cycle of family violence in Canada.
Thank you to everyone who made a donation towards the Iceland Challenge for Shelter and to our magnificent group of trekkers. Together, they made Shelter Foundation history and, most importantly, have made their communities safer for women and children seeking a life free from violence and abuse. We are deeply appreciative and feel privileged to count them all among our supporters.
To view a collection of photos taken by our trekkers, please click here.
To make a donation, please visit icelandchallenge.ca