Enthusiastic walkers, wheelers and steppers wound their way through Budweiser Gardens on Nov. 3 in a high-energy show of support for United Way Elgin Middlesex.
TD StairClimb, United Way’s largest community fundraising and team-building event, featured more than 100 workplace and school teams.
With this movie-themed remake of a perennial favourite, many dressed as their favourite film characters – from Darth Vader to minions, Marvel superheroes, 101 Dalmatians and at least four Jurassic Park dinosaurs.
It was the 26th year for TD StairClimb, an in-person return after two years as a virtual event and the first time at Bud Gardens.
The new venue provided participants with more steps and more opportunities to reconnect safely with colleagues, friends and classmates.
Helping, step by step
Event day was packed full, with an activity zone, photo booths, refreshments and more movie props than a Hollywood soundstage.
A seemingly indefatigable crew from FitClub BootCamps, aided by Fanshawe College students, led warm-ups before teams walked, and sometimes ran, a 480-stair circuit through Bud Gardens. Other participants used the rink-side walking and wheeling track.
“Step by step, and with the community’s generosity, we are all helping neighbours in need,” said United Way President and CEO Kelly Ziegner, whose team’s theme was inspired by the 1997 hit, Men in Black.
“This is a lot of fun, with a serious purpose,” Ziegner said. “If we’re going to achieve a common goal of improving lives locally, we need to work together, give together – and yes, laugh and play together too.”
Participants and supporters pledged donations for the event, which, across its 26 years, has cumulatively raised about $3 million for local social programs so far.
As of event day, the top fundraising teams included TD Canada Trust, Western University, 3M Canada and Canada Life. Voyago, in its first time participating as a workplace team, cracked the top-five list of fundraisers.
People can still add to their StairClimb pledges in person at 409 King St. London, until Nov. 10 or online until on end of day November 11.
This year’s fundraising totals should be available later this month.
TD Canada Trust, presenting sponsor of the event, signed 30 teams into the day and topped the leaderboard.
The long-time sponsorship and participation by everyone at every branch and office are part of TD’s commitment to community, connection and customers, said TD District Vice President Keri Kowalski, who also joined in the StairClimb.
As has been a perennial tradition, several busloads of high-school students also added their enthusiastic participation.
The entire school at A.B. Lucas Secondary, part of the Thames Valley District School Board, has contributed to lunch-time charity bingo and three-on-three basketball to raise money for United Way, said teacher Jake Menhinick.
And on Thursday, 40 Lucas students and teachers joined StairClimb to add to the school’s cumulative donation this year of about $5.000.
“United Way has a big presence at Lucas,” Menhinick said. “United Way has showed students how important it is to help the community and help each other.”
The annual StairClimb and other campaign events help United Way Elgin Middlesex support 52 essential programs and seven pilot projects at 41 local agencies – each focused on reducing and preventing poverty and promoting social and economic inclusion for all.
#ReUniting the community
This year’s campaign theme of a community #ReUnited places a spotlight on the important of reconnecting after more than two years apart.
It also highlights how everyone has the potential to need help sometimes, and everyone has the potential to give help too.
All money raised through United Way Elgin Middlesex stays 100% local.
See all photos from the event now!
United Way Elgin Middlesex is especially grateful for the support and generosity of TD StairClimb sponsors: presenting sponsor TD Canada Trust; event sponsors Royal Fence Ltd. JAS Mortgages, Simalam, LiUNA Local 1059, Collins Clothiers; media sponsors Country 104, FM96, Fresh 103.1 and 980 CFPL of Corus Radio; and in-kind sponsors Budweiser Gardens, City of London and FitClub Bootcamps.