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How far can you walk? Your strolls in May could help raise money for Coquitlam Rotary

Coquitlam Rotary's Rush fundraising campaign challenges participants to be active through the month of May

Steve Niven likes to take Rotary Rush one step at a time.

And, for the second year in a row, the 66-year-old member of the Coquitlam Rotary will be walking to Harrison Hot Springs for the club’s fundraising event that challenges participants to take on a month of physical challenges in support of youth programs.

Last year, Niven’s 100-km stroll raised more than $3,000.

This year he hopes to exceed that.

The money goes to various youth-oriented initiatives Rotary supports in the Tri-Cities, including literacy programs, bursaries for graduating high school students, the Douglas College Foundation Amanda Told Legacy Award and even an education program in Kenya.

Niven will tackle his challenge in five 20-km increments, starting from his home near Lougheed Mall, into Pitt Meadows, then on to the embarkation point of the old Albion Ferry in Maple Ridge.

From there he’ll switch to the other side of the Fraser River walking along the Trans-Canada Trail into Abbotsford and then to Rosedale, east of Chilliwack, where he’ll traverse the bridge back over the Fraser and on through Agassiz toward his eventual destination.

Niven said for the most part he’ll be able to stick to sidewalks, paths and trails.

It’s not only safer, but it gives him a view of the surrounding countryside that’s often unique from what is usually experienced from a speeding car.

“I did not know there was so many hills in Abbotsford,” Niven said of one of his revelations during last year’s ramble that also included an encounter with a family of bears snacking on grass along a trail.

“There’s so much beautiful country.”

But for the Rotary Rush, participants can choose from four challenges that might better suit their comfort and fitness levels, from five kilometres to 150 km.

They have the entire month of May to complete their challenge and collect pledges.

Everyone who signs up gets a swag bag that includes tickets to a Coquitlam Express hockey game, a fanny pack to store walking necessities like snacks, or maybe a map, and a clip-on reflector.

“It’s a challenge to yourself to get out and do some good for the community,” Niven said. “It’s exhilarating.”

• To register to participate or to sponsor a participant, go to Coquitlam Rotary’s special Rotary Rush website.