Chris Fenton of The Fenton Team has been selected by the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation to represent the Alberni Valley in a 100-kilometre trek through the Sahara Desert in support of women and children fleeing violence.
In November 2019, Fenton will be hiking for five straight days, up to seven hours a day, across difficult terrain in a hot and dry desert climate, with temperatures dropping considerably at night. Eighty percent of every dollar raised for his trek will stay in the Alberni Valley as a donation to Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society (ACAWS), while the other 20 percent will be used on a national level for education programs.
There are no administrative fees taken from sponsorship donations, as Royal LePage pays all Shelter Foundation administrative costs and travel costs. Last year’s Iceland Challenge for Shelter broke a fundraising record for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.
The annual challenge was brought about to raise awareness for women in Canada who have no shelter.
“At Royal LePage, we’ve been fundraising for the local women’s shelter for a number of years,” said Fenton. “In that time, ACAWS has educated us on the fact that domestic violence is a really important issue in Canada, but especially in Port Alberni.”
The Alberni Valley Community Foundation’s 2018 Vital Signs report shows that the sexual assault rate in the Alberni Valley was 115.5 per 100,000 people in 2017—almost double the provincial average. Additionally, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the ACAWS Transition House provided 1,737 nights of bed stays for women and children at risk of or fleeing domestic violence.
Fenton said he “jumped” at the opportunity to take part in the challenge as soon as it opened up.
The trek will involve sleeping in large-group tents, using camping-style bathroom facilities and going without electricity, cell service and the other comforts of home. Participants will be spending an initial five days in Morocco to adjust to the climate and culture—then the challenge begins.
Fenton has been training for the trek by running two days a week and lifting weights four days a week, and soon hopes to start taking longer hikes in the sand.
“I think the sand and the heat are the two things I’m most concerned about,” he said. “I’ve never been to Africa in my life. I was born and raised in a rainforest, so the desert is a little bit intimidating.”
He said he is excited to trek the Sahara Desert for the adventure, but he is also excited for the opportunity to use his platform to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence in Port Alberni.
“One of our core values at The Fenton Team is to give back to the community that supports our business,” he said. “I love helping people sell their homes, but this year I’m really excited to be able to fundraise and train for the Sahara Desert to do some really meaningful good for women and children rebuilding their lives after some of the hardest times in their lives. I’m a husband and father first, so this issue hits especially close to home for me.”
To be eligible to participate, Fenton must raise at least $5,000. You can donate to his cause by visiting https://royallepage.myetap.org/fundraiser/Sahara/.