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From Kingston to Ottawa: Gould Lake Outdoor Centre's paddle to the hill

Grace Bonifacio August 30, 2016

Every now and then we discover individuals doing amazing things for charity (check out Maya Farrel’s story on how she swam across Lake Ontario).

We discovered another amazing group performing a similar feat for a great cause. Gould Lake Outdoor Education staff in Kingston, Ontario are paddling from their hometown to Ottawa, in what they call “Storm the Hill.”

In addition to the unique physical challenge, the staff are doing this for a great cause. Paddling to Ottawa is a unique way to support Friends of Outreach, a charitable trust fund that aims to raise money and support students with financial limitations to participate in Gould Lake’s outdoor education programs.

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We had an opportunity to talk to Lauren Hanley of Gould Lake Outdoor Education, the coordinator for this fundraising event. We learned more about the challenge and how it is helping to drive their fundraising success.

The idea of paddling from Kingston to Ottawa came to mind during a brainstorming session. The staff wanted to do something unique and daring to catch the attention of the public. They used to complete a similar challenge with a paddling marathon in Algonquin Provincial Park. However, it didn’t resonate as much with the public. Paddling from their hometown all the way to the nation’s capital would capture the public eye.

A challenge like Storm the Hill was well received by everyone. Individuals who have or had children in Gould Lake Outdoor Education programs know the value that the programs have on their children’s growth and self-confidence and are coming together to support the campaign. Many of the participants have shared experiences paddling for several days during their summers on Gould Lake, so they are prepared to face the challenge head on.

The fundraising aspect of the challenge was a natural choice. Two of the three paddlers were beneficiaries of the Friends of Outreach program and knew how valuable the Gould Lake Outdoor Education Program was in their lives. Giving back to the organization became a fundamental part of the campaign.

 Chimp became the platform for their fundraising efforts after it was recommended by the financial department at the Limestone District School Board. “It was seamless and easy to set to up a page to help with our fundraising efforts,” said Storm the Hill’s campaign organizer, Lauren Hanley.

Their initial goal in previous years was to raise $2,000 for Friends of Outreach. However, the support and attention they have garnered helped them raise over ten times their goal. Lauren Hanley is confident that anyone can make a difference in their community if they simply put their minds to it.

“My advice for anyone wanting to make a difference in their community is to get out there and get started. If you have an idea (even if that idea is just making a difference) start anywhere!"

Every little bit helps. If you’re passionate about it, you will be able to achieve it!

The trek from Kingston to Ottawa starts on August 31, 2016. Make sure to visit their fundraising campaign page to learn and support their vision.

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