There’s nothing like a friendly challenge to fire up fundraising, and the one thrown down to Mayor John Taylor for tomorrow’s Coldest Night of the Year walk to end homelessness was met with a hearty “game on!”
Blue Door CEO Michael Braithwaite issued the challenge on social media to see who could personally raise more for the respective organizations they are walking for in the Saturday, Feb. 22 event taking place in 144 communities across Canada.
Braithwaite and his team of walkers are raising funds in support of a new housing initiative Blue Door will soon launch to provide five supportive homes in the community for families, senior men and LGBTQ2S youth.
Taylor and his team, named in honour of his father, Tom Taylor, are walking in support of Newmarket’s seasonal homeless emergency housing location, Inn from the Cold, which the senior Taylor was instrumental in founding.
The competition between the pair will see the loser donate $100 to the winning charity.
“I’m going to lose and lose badly, but everyone wins,” Braithwaite said with a laugh. “Nobody loses if we get people to give more, the Inn will get money from me and it’s still a win.”
Braithwaite said, jokingly, that his first challenge to the mayor was if he loses, he has to grow a beard like his. The suggestion of which, Braithwaite said, prompted the clean-shaven Taylor to reply that he’d rather pay the $100.
“And I would rather pay $100 than shave off mine, so we’re even,” Braithwaite said, who has a striking “yeard”, a beard that has grown for more than a year without a major cut.
When asked about the beard challenge, Taylor laughed and said, “And my wife would pay $200”.
At the time of publication, both challengers have crushed their personal fundraising goals: Taylor exceeded his $12,000 goal, for a total of $15,000, and Braithwaite is past his $5,000 goal.
But anything can happen between now and Saturday’s event as fundraising continues until then and the community can donate.
Final fundraising totals will be posted online at the Coldest Night of the Year website.
“John’s been such a champion for this cause and I know he’s always up for a challenge, because if it helps people experiencing homelessness, he’s in,” Braithwaite said. “Same for me, too. I was thinking, like who can I push this year to make this fun.”
“There’s still a day left and I’m confident that with the right push, we can make that race tight,” he said.
There’s no doubt this local competition is a tough one. Out of more than 20,000 walkers registered across Canada, Taylor is now in third place as a top fundraiser. And, the Town of Newmarket is, once again, in the Top 15 nationally.
“I’m just so incredibly proud, we’re competing with Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, and we’re just showing that this is a community that has so much compassion for the people who are struggling and need assistance and help,” Taylor said.
“I want to give a shoutout, not only a giant thank you to everybody who is fundraising, but a giant thank you to the dozens and dozens of volunteers who show up week in and week out and help the emergency housing do the incredible work they do as they move people from homelessness to stability and employment.
“Anything anyone can do to support Blue Door or Inn from the Cold is money well spent in our community, supporting those people who need our support, especially at this time of the year and at the Coldest Night of the Year walk,” he said.
You can still register to walk and donate to the Coldest Night of the Year by visiting here and selecting either the Newmarket (Inn from the Cold) or East Gwillimbury (Blue Door) location.
The Newmarket walk kicks off with registration at 4 p.m. at Riverwalk Commons, 200 Doug Duncan Dr., and the East Gwillimbury walk kicks off at 4 p.m. at Sharon-Hope United Church, 18648 Leslie St.
All walks get underway at 5:15 p.m.
There is a choice of a 2, 5, and 10-km route marked with Coldest Night of the Year signage, staffed with volunteers at rest stops to provide snacks along the way.
To support Braithwaite in this challenge, visit here.
To support Taylor, visit here.