Author: Scott Walker
On the last weekend of August this year, friends and I were doing an overnight hike on a small mountain here in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It fell within a day or so of a full moon. As the sun set the moon rose. It was so beautiful! With the cloud patterns in the sky, it wasn’t quite bright enough to hike without headlamps. For safety reasons we all turned on our headlamps and used them throughout the night. Despite the temperature dropping to around 34F just before sunrise, and some of us feeling tired at times, we were all able to hike through the night!
As you are reading this you might be thinking…why were they hiking through the night?
The overnight hike was part of “24 hours for bipolar”. It was the 6th annual bipolar awareness fundraising hike that I’ve led and organized. Three friends and I started hiking Tunnel Mountain at 5pm on Saturday August 29, finishing at 5pm on Sunday August 30. We took a 25-30 minute break every 6 hours to stretch and eat.
During the event we had over 70 people join us! Some came to hike one lap of Tunnel Mountain with us, which takes about 75 minutes. Others joined for a couple of laps. A handful of people did a lap or two with us at the start, went home, and then came for a lap later on during the event. For the 1am lap there was a crew of people which made the top of Tunnel Mountain into a small party atmosphere which was fun!
For this year’s bipolar awareness hike a friend helped me incorporate an online silent auction into the event. We were incredibly fortunate and grateful to have many local and non-local companies generously donate items or services. As in previous hiking events we were also fortunate to receive both local and provincial media attention. I had both pre-recorded and live radio interviews before “24 hours for bipolar”, and I also had a live radio interview the morning after when I was recovering.
The biggest highlight for me of this year’s event was connecting two widows who had both lost their husbands last year. Both of those men had bipolar disorder and had sadly taken their own lives. Neither of those women had met someone who had gone through what they had. They were both very appreciative of me organizing “24 hours for bipolar” and also for connecting them to each other. I’m truly grateful that they both said they’d like to help out at next year’s event.
There were SO many other highlights for me during this hiking event! Old and new friends alike shared deeply personal stories about their mental health stories with me while hiking together. Some of those same people gave us cash donations and/or food. Great stories and laughs! Doing Facebook live videos with a variety of people, including one friend who bravely shared about some of her journey with bipolar disorder. Two local businesses kindly donating coffee and treats just after sunrise…as well as pizza and beer right when we finished! People and businesses coming up to me asking about next year’s event and saying they’d like to be involved. A new friend joining us for the entire overnight hike after hearing one of my radio interviews. Raising over $5100 Canadian which was split between two very worthy causes.
Half of the funds raised went to International Bipolar Foundation to support the incredible programs and resources that they provide at no charge. The other half went to the Banff Community High School athletic department to support students in financial need.
Before the event two local companies donated items including a custom cap for me with the “24 hours for bipolar” logo which I wore during the event, as well as event stickers to give to everyone who participated.
Before, during, and after the event different people humbly told me that I’ve inspired them in one way or another. By openly sharing about my bipolar disorder journey. Random strangers came up to me to thank me for shining a spotlight on mental health awareness, specifically bipolar disorder. Others thanked me for helping to reduce the stigma around bipolar disorder.
This is the 7th year in a row that I’ve led and organized a mental health awareness event to raise funds for International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF). I continue doing so since this incredible organization does SO much for bipolar awareness advocacy, outreach and education.
The bipolar awareness fundraising hike has been the highlight of my entire 2020 for all the highlights mentioned above! And last year’s event was my highlight of 2019. I am already looking forward to next year’s event on June 19 and 20, 2021!
To learn more about Scott’s fundraising experience, view his Awareness Event videos here.
Click here to learn more about how you can get involved with our Be the Light movement this Giving Tuesday!