Participants in last year’s Moving Mountains hike stop for a quick photo at the Gowlland Todd Provincial Park check point. The hikers are gearing up to tackle three of the region’s highest peaks this weekend while raising money for local families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Groups teaming up to help those battling cancer

Annual tribute hike goes this Saturday after pasta fundraiser night

This weekend a local group is hoping to move mountains while raising funds and hope for individuals with cancer.

The Shared Hope Society and Moving Mountains are gearing up to eat some pasta and tackle three of the region’s highest peaks this weekend, all while raising as much money as possible to give to three local families that are dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

“It’s a passion – a lot of us are driven because we have our own experiences,” said Nicole Cushing, Shared Hope founder.

She nodded to Langford resident Shane Flamand. Back in 2013, he created Moving Mountains to hike the three largest peaks in Victoria to raise funds for his nephew, Zack Downey, who was battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Now being run in tribute to the late Langford teen and in its fourth year, this annual hike covers 27 kilometres through Mt. Finlayson, Jocelyn Hill and Mt. Work, and takes approximately 10 to 12 hours to complete.

The Shared Hope Society is an incorporated non-profit with the mission of enhancing hope and dignity by providing help for non-medical expenses and education funding to those affected by cancer. When many families have a member diagnosed with cancer, Cushing noted, often “you start trimming the fat (financially) and you don’t do the little extras, the fun things.”

The society helps by providing gift cards or cash to help with Christmas gifts, movie passes, a special dinner, a fun night out or whatever that special thing may be. “They get to do that little thing that brings them joy,” she said.

This year the two organizations joined together for a shared purpose. “We were looking for new members and they were looking to start a non-profit,” Cushing said, adding it was a perfect match. “It’s been amazing.”

Over the summer months they conducted a series of smaller hikes and walks, with all of the proceeds going directly to local families affected by cancer. “It’s been really well received,” she said, and plans are in the works to continue next summer.

“I’m not a hiker and they’ve got me doing it,” Cushing noted, clarifying that the Moving Mountains hike is still out of her skill range. “That’s actually part of the reason I decided to start the pasta night,” she said.

This is the first year the Moving Mountains hike will follow a special family-friendly pasta night, happening tonight (Nov. 18) in Langford. While it gives the hikers a chance to fuel up for the big day, she said, it also gives their family members and other community members a chance to get involved. “It’s an affordable night out for families.” Dinner, which includes a meat or vegetarian option, is by donation and non-alcoholic beverages are also available for purchase.

Proceeds from this weekend’s events will go to three recipients identified by the Society, including a young mother of three recovering from stomach cancer, a university student receiving treatment for stage 3B melanoma and a three-year-old girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “We feel really grateful we’re able to give to three people, but there’s so many more in the community,” Cushing said.

With events and the society completely run by volunteers, they’ve been able to keep their overhead minimal and make sure more money ends up in the hands of those that need the pick-me-up. The summer hikes? “Those don’t cost us anything (to put on) but our time.”

Community support, with a local church providing the venue and Thrifty Foods helping out with the pasta night, allows them to keep their costs down, Cushing said. “We’re hoping to raise as much money as we can to give to the recipients and give them a helping hand just before Christmas.”

The Moving Mountains Pasta Night takes place tonight at The Forge Church, 2612 Sooke Rd., with doors opening at 6 p.m. Admission is a suggested minimum donation of $5 per person. The Moving Mountains hike starts this Saturday at 7 a.m. but is only for experienced hikers. Hikers can register by emailing sharedhopesociety@gmail.com.

For more information on these events or the society, go to sharedhopesociety.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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