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Vancouver Islander realtors prepare to trek Ecuador for charity

A few Vancouver Islanders will be trekking up a volcano in Ecuador to help raise money for charity.

Jana Koster and Tina Lynch from Nanaimo are two of the five from Vancouver Island making the trek, alongside another 115 from across Canada.

The two realtors have set to raise $20,000 for Haven House in Nanaimo. A portion of it will go to violence prevention programs across Canada, including those focused on youth, to help break the cycle of family violence.

“I have supported the Shelter Foundation since I started as a realtor,” said Coster, “and it’s just something that’s grown more important to me over the years as I’ve learned more about what they do and the need that is in our community with Haven House here in Nanaimo helping our women locally. So it’s just become something close to my heart. I don’t have a personal story like a lot of the women and people that hike with us. It has just become a cause that I back.”

“I would say for me the personal connection is my dad was on the streets at 15. So for me, if I like someone like him in a in a bad family, it would’ve been great to have a bit more resources,” said Lynch.

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The trek is hosted by Royal LePage’s Shelter Foundation, and will take four groups of around twenty hikers up high altitudes to Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano. 

It will take around five days in total, going around 15-20 km/day.

“I did the hike in 2021, which was in the Purcell Mountains here in BC. We only had 60 realtors that time, so half as many. We were broken into groups of about 20 to 25. You get to know those 25 people really well in a combined effort to the same goal,” said Koster. “The hike was extremely difficult and the support between each other is amazing. To know that across the country we’ve got other realtors all working towards the same goal is amazing. When you go on the hike, you start hearing everyone else’s ‘why are they there?’ and some of their stories are extremely personal and heart wrenching and to know that either they found a shelter or wish there was support for them back at the time that they needed it. You realize how important it is.”

In terms of fundraising, each realtor needed to raise around $6,000 minimum to join the hike, but aimed to raise $10,000 each.

To raise it, they turned to friends, family, and did various fundraising gigs to make it work.

“None of this money can be from our commission donors. Both of us still donate part of our commission to the Shelter Foundation, but that doesn’t include our $6,000 to $10,000 that we’re collecting. So we’ve both done a bit of a raffle type fundraiser to start,” said Koster. I’m doing an event at the golf simulator at Prime Golf in North Nanaimo, so I’m hoping at that event to have quite a few people come out and support me, donate, and enter games and activities for prizes.”

“I’m doing like Jenna did on her last trip— having sponsorships on my training shirt and training jacket,” said Lynch. “Then I did a Purdy’s fundraiser and silent auction here on Gabriola Island.”

Around 200 people applied across the country to go on the trek, and the two say they’re both excited to go.

“I was really nervous about the fundraising portion, which was a little bit more nerve-wracking for me than the training. I’ve got a good base and our company gave us a donation each to help kick us off too. So that was nice,” said Lynch. “I think the altitude is gonna be— just from doing the [previous] Peru trip it took us about three times as long to do anything. So I think 15 to 20 kilometers a day sounds doable at our elevation and altitude. Up there it’s gonna be quite intense and it’ll be a struggle just walking a few steps. So I think it’ll be getting to us,” Lynch chunkled.

The two set off this November.

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