Calgary walk for homeless aims for $125K
Challenge this year to come from precipitation forecast, not cold
More than 500 people will take to Calgary's river pathways on Saturday to raise awareness of homelessness in our city.
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The annual Coldest Night of the Year walk gives people a taste of life on the streets during winter, while raising money for communities across Canada.
Calvin Pike was homeless for two years so he knows all about winter nights in Calgary.
"I had a garbage bag, I had a towel wrapped around my head, I had really dirty clothes and I hadn't showered for three days," Pike explained.
"It was really cold and there were some nights I'd sleep outside."
Now he lives in affordable housing at the Mustard Seed, one of several organizations that benefit from money the walk raises.
Organizer Samantha Jones says as well as raising money, the event's also about raising awareness.
"I think that once people start the walk they have a lot of energy and they're excited," Jones tells CBC News.
"But then as they're out there for their two, five or 10 kilometre walk and the cold starts to set in, they realize how challenging it would be to spend night after night in the outdoors sleeping in that environment."
Jones says the forecast this year is promising.
"So the first year we actually had the coldest night on record, it was -23 C. This year we're looking at El Niño weather so it's probably going to be -1 C or -2 C with some precipitation, so we're hoping the precipitation element will provide a little bit of challenge for our walkers but it's definitely going to be a little warmer than usual," she said.
Jones says despite the downturn, they're still on course to raise more than $100,000 this year.
That's just the Calgary event, as walks take place in dozens of cities across the country.
Since 2011, the event nationally has raised $7.9 million.
Registration for the Calgary event starts at 4 p.m. at Eau Claire Market.