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Board member stepping up to raise funds
Board member stepping up to raise funds for Waypoint
Posted on 02/22/2024
Board member stepping up to raise funds forSteve Parry ready to walk the Camino to raise funds for Waypoint Waypoint

A thousand kilometres in 40 days. On foot. Through terrain that includes lush valleys, historic locales and stunning mountain vistas.

And all to benefit Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.

Steve Parry, vice-chair of the Waypoint board, will set out March 13 from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, taking his first steps on the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route through northern Spain.

“I spent the first half of my career carrying rocks up and down mountainsides,” said the former geologist, whose doctor suggested he start walking more after developing heart problems in his 60s.

“It was a real epiphany,” said the Tiny Township resident. “I’d forgotten how much my mental health relied on me being in the outdoors.”

It was a natural fit, then, to turn his determination to walk the Camino into a fundraiser for Waypoint. For donations of $100 or more (charitable tax receipts are available), supporters will receive a handmade zipper toggle that Parry will wear for a day along the Camino. He will personally match all donations up to $1,000 in total.

His goal for the 35-day journey is the holy city of Santiago de Compostela. But that won’t be the end; he’ll walk another five days to Cape Finisterre on the Atlantic Ocean for good measure.

“My hope would be that others associated with Waypoint would say, ‘That’s a great idea,’ and it becomes an annual event and part of our culture.”

The origins of the Camino date back to the year 812, when a shepherd dreamed that a shower of stars had shown him the burial site of the apostle St. James.

The discovery attracted pilgrims from all over the world, who visited via an ancient Roman road. Today, it is one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world; last year, more than 446,000 people completed the journey.

Joining that group will come with adversity — whether it’s shin splints, blistered feet or inclement weather — but Parry is determined to overcome whatever obstacles arise. The good news is he won’t have to face them alone.

“I’m very much looking forward to that ‘Camino family’ experience,” he said, adding many peregrinos, as they are called, form lifelong bonds.

At around the midway point of the Camino is a site called Cruz de Ferro, where travellers leave stones to symbolize the shedding of burdens. Parry is offering to take small stones on people’s behalf. If interested, e-mail [email protected].
A Walking for Mental Health Facebook page has been set up so supporters can make a donation or follow his progress through pictures and videos.

“Walking your own Camino wherever you are, for your own mental health, is a great idea,” Parry concluded. “When I come back, I plan to keep walking here in Tiny Township, and I’m hoping to see some of the folks who followed us along the way.”