United Way lifts stair-climb fundraising goal to $250,000

United Way Elgin Middlesex CEO Kelly Ziegner poses in the One London Place stairwell during the 2017 fundraising event. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

It’s a feat that might take superhuman strength.

Some 2,000 people will climb 472 stairs inside One London Place Thursday during a fundraiser for the United Way of Elgin Middlesex. They’re urged to complete the workout decked out in superhero costumes, as per the annual event’s superhero theme this year.

READ MORE: Londoners help United Way Elgin Middlesex raise funds step by step

“Everyone can get dressed up, and recycle those Hallowe’en costumers from this week,” said Kelly Ziegner, the CEO of United Way of Elgin Middlesex.

A group of firefighters didn’t have to search far for their outfits. Cody Workman and Nelson Bodnar were amongst a small team that did the challenge wearing roughly 50 lbs of firefighting gear, and breathing through respirators.

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“It’s like breathing through a snorkel. It’s like being underwater and doing the stairclimb on a snorkel,” said Workman.

Nelson Bodnar (left) and Cody Workman (right) did the stairclimb wearing 50lbs of firefighting equipment. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

Officials have said it takes the average person about 10 to 15 minutes to complete the challenge, but the team of firefighters reached the top floor in just seven minutes. Bodnar admitted that by the end, the 50lbs of weight “felt more like 200.”

The United Way has set a $250,000 fundraising goal for this year’s event, after reaching just shy of $225,000 in 2017.

“It’s our single largest fundraising event that we have,” said Ziegner.

“It helps with programs that address local poverty, or youth success. It could be programs like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, where kids get a mentor to help them be successful in their lives.”

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READ MORE: United Way Elgin-Middlesex kicks off local 2018 campaign with annual 3M Harvest Lunch

Maura Brisbane and Kara O’Ray are sponsored employees, who are giving stairclimbers encouragement at the 10th floor. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

The local branch of the United Way supports 96 networks and programs across 65 different agencies in London, Elgin County, and Middlesex County.

The stair climb happens each year, and it’s part of the United Way’s annual fall fundraising campaign. The campaign kicked off in late September with the 3M Harvest Lunch at Budweiser Gardens.

Though officials haven’t given a financial target for the campaign, Ziegner told 980 CFPL they’re “tracking ahead” compared to the same time last year.



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