Beginning in a heat wave and ending in a snowstorm, Chatham’s Amber Pinsonneault pushed past challenge after challenge to complete a gruelling mountain hike and raise money for the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre.
Pinsonneault, broker of record at Royal LePage Peifer Realty, took part in the Purcell Mountains Challenge for Shelter in British Columbia last month. It was a 100-kilometre, six-day trek through some extreme mountainous terrain.
Pinsonneault raised $10,505 in the process, with 80 per cent of that going to the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre, and the other 20 per cent to the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, which helps fund violence prevention and education initiatives across Canada.
But Pinsonneault wanted to see the local shelter received $10,000, so she topped up the total with $2,000 of her own money, bringing the total to $12,505.
To prepare, Pinsonneault donned a 30-pound backpack and attacked the hill at Kingston Park. She knew it wouldn’t be enough, but was surprised at just how difficult the terrain was.
“It was harder than I was anticipating,” she said. “Every day was so different in terms of what we were walking on. The actual trek was up and down very steep paths.”
Even if she lived in a hilly part of Ontario, Pinsonneault doesn’t think it would have helped with her preparation. A full 30 percent of participants did not finish the hike.
“Unless you lived in B.C., there weren’t many ways you could prepare yourself for this,” she said. “I was able to finish it, but it was six very challenging days. I pushed myself way beyond what I thought I was capable of.”
As hard as the trek was for Pinsonneault, she said her motivation was to think of for whom she was doing it.
“Every single morning before we left for our hike, we had stories from women who explained why they had to use a shelter and how it impacted their lives,” she said. “It was a reminder as to why we were doing this. Just to go out there with everything you need on your back and not knowing how long you’re going to be walking and what you are going to endure, you think about women who take what they can on their back and leave the house for safety. That brought a whole new meaning.”
She said she’s especially grateful to be in a solid marriage and to not worry about “the roof over my head and protecting my daughters.”
Pinsonneault said she wanted to thank members of the community who donated and provided words of encouragement.