Former summer campers who reunited in Squamish are joining forces to support a unique and growing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research fundraising endeavour currently underway back east.
Le Grand Portage is a 700-kilometre portaging expedition currently underway between Toronto and Montreal.
The fundraiser was spearheaded by Felix Jasmin, who was diagnosed with MS two years ago.
He, like the locals, was also a camper at Taylor Statten Camps back in the day.
The Sea to Sky group includes camp alumni — and their families — from the Ontario summer camp who are supporting the fundraising campaign with a 13-kilometre portage of their own starting at Alice Lake on Oct. 17.
They will travel from the north end of the lake to the Stawamus Chief parking lot.
Team Squamish, as they called their group on the fundraising site for Le Grand Portage, includes Squamish's Sarah Manwaring Everett, who went to the Algonquin Park-based camp with Jasmin for more than 15 years.
Their camp experience included a long canoe trip that ended with a 13-kilometre Grand Portage from Pigeon River to the shores of Lake Superior.
"It is a bit of a monumental event that we did when we were 15 and 16 years old, and then we did it again as staff members. So, Felix, when he was diagnosed with MS, was obviously trying to figure out a way to navigate it and I guess he feels like this is his life's grand portage — to contribute to this."
The Sea to Sky group is made up of former campers who perhaps didn't know each other well at camp, but who reconnected here.
"Just based on the strength of the bonds that we have from camp," she said.
Last year, they participated in MS fundraising by hiking, biking and walking 13 kilometres.
"We did it last year as a group and kind of participated in our own way," she said.
Manwaring Everett's brother is part of the Toronto to Montreal portage.
"The more awareness we can raise, the more money they will raise, which is the whole point of the event," she said.
She stressed that everyone is welcome to join the Suqamish event to run, walk, hike, paddle their own Grand Portage.
Folks don't have to go the whole 13 kilometres, either, she said.
The event will get underway at 2 p.m. on Oct. 17. She imagines it will take three hours to complete.
"This is a small part of a much bigger event," she said.
“Already, they have raised over $350,000 for MS research, so it is quite a big event that is happening, and if we can contribute a little bit through our support in Squamish, that will feel like a lot, to be able to be a part of it."
MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system.
Globally, 2.8 million people live with MS, according to the Atlas of MS. In Canada, which has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world, 90,000 people have been diagnosed. The average age of diagnosis in this country is 43.
Go here to donate to Team Squamish and contribute to Le Grand Portage.
(100% of all donations go to MS research in Canada.)