Plenty of warm spirit at Kamloops 'Coldest Night of the Year' walk

By Vanessa Ybarra
February 25, 2017 - 4:00pm Updated: February 27, 2017 - 1:46pm

KAMLOOPS — Saturdays afternoon’s chilly temperatures of -1 only seemed fitting for Kamloops sixth annual 'Coldest Night of the Year' walk.

"This is the coldest of the coldest nights we’ve had,” said event director Carol Paulsen.

Fire pits and hot chocolate helped keed spirits warm as close to 300 people geared up for a two, five, or 10 kilometres walk through downtown Kamloops.

“Coldest Night of the Year happens all across the country, said Paulsen. "There’s more than 100 charities who are raising money and it’s charities that work closely with the homelese. You go for the walk but you also eat your dinner outside to get a little bit more of a sense of what it’s like for people having to live outdoors all the time.”

More than 40 teams took part in this year’s event, raising more than $50-thousand to go towards New Life Community Kamloops.

‘"Itt supports our day room and the soup kitchen area, “ said Stan Dueck, Executive Director of New Life Community Kamloops. “We’re open seven-days-a-week so there’s always a need there. The event’s just been such a huge support for us going into spring. The timing is really good. but it’s awareness too, it’s getting people in the community involved.”

This year was the CML Strata Strutters first year taking part.

For team captain Samantha Minnabarriet, its seeing the cities most vulnerable almost every day that made her sign up.

"I run through Riverside park a lot and so i see it everyday," said Minnabarriet. "I see people with carts and that’s all they have, it just really hits home, it makes you very humble to see people with so little.”

For families like the Eriksons, the frigid event has become a family tradition.

“We’ve been taking part for at least three years,” said Dan Erikson. “New Life Community Kamloops is just one of those organizations that’s a really tangible way to help people in the community. It just seemed like something to be involved in.”

With more than 100 people recorded in Kamloops 2016 homeless count, boots may be on the ground but there’s still a long way to go in erasing the issue of homelessness altogether

“The issues are addictions, some people have lost what they have or something’s happened in their life and they have nothing else right now,” said Dueck. “It’s a matter of doing what you can to help them take a step forward.”

Those steps of support adding up to the hundreds of thousands in Kamloops.

This year's 'Coldest Night of the Year', raised a total of $56,000, making it the best year yet.

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