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Today’s inaugural Whistler Water One Climb drew the highest number of people ever attending a Grouse Mountain fundraiser, with 1,700 youth, community members and business leaders registered to tackle the Grouse Grind and raise funds for Free The Children.

All dressed in blue with many upping the blue-factor with hair spray and face paint, participants rose to the challenge to “flood the Grind” on Saturday, June 22. All funds raised as part of today’s event go towards Free The Children clean water projects in Kenya, supporting the charity’s year-long Water Initiative with a goal of providing clean water for 100,000 people.

From the Shift Dance Academy flash mob of 70 kids to the massive We Day Dance, Grouse Mountain was transformed into a dance party as everyone celebrated making a difference in the lives of Kenyans who are challenged every day with access to clean water.

After the energy-pumping pre-climb rally at the base, participants climbed the Grouse Grind, inspired by the difference they were making and knowing who was waiting for them at the top. The amazing Me to We speaker Spencer West – the young man who summited Mount Kilimanjaro almost exactly one year ago, despite losing his legs at the age of five – gave a rousing, high-five talk at the top, sharing his “shameless idealism” and congratulating all the participants for “redefining possible.”

“Congratulations to everyone for climbing the Grind – I’m a mountain climber myself and I know how gruelling it can be,” West said to crowd applause. “We all have a responsibility to lend a helping hand to someone who needs it, and today we’ve shown that changing the world can be fun too.”

The inspiration for Whistler Water One Climb came after Grouse Mountain President Stuart McLaughlin joined a Free The Children “water walk” in Kenya last summer.

“When you have to carry water from the only source over many kilometres, a 50 litre barrel of water leaves a dent in your skull and a lasting understanding of the daily challenge in these Kenyan’s lives,” said McLaughlin. “Climbing the Grouse Grind and raising funds was a challenge for our participants, but nothing compared to trying to survive every day without access to clean water.”

With every $25 raised translating into clean drinking water for one person – for life! – the total raised means 4,400 people’s lives are transformed forever. With donations still coming in and a challenge issued at the event to raise even more, this impact will likely grow.

“We are overwhelmed with the support for this inaugural event, and we’d like to thank all the sponsors, participants, fundraisers and volunteers including the huge turnout from KPMG,” said McLaughlin. “Thanks also to all the groups who helped create the inspirational atmosphere -- the Free The Children crowd pumpers, the ivivva cheer team, and the Shift Dance Academy. Today we are all difference makers.”

Draw prizes and awards for top fundraisers were generously donated by Quiksilver, Roxy, DC, and ivivva.

The crowd cheered for the top individual fundraiser, ten-year-old Jeremy Lo, a student at St. George’s School, who raised $2,860 through email outreach to his friends and family.

“As a result of today’s campaign the health and quality of life for thousands will be vastly improved. Young girls will have time to complete their studies or even go to school for the first time and mothers will be able to work on new sources of income such as bee hives, goats or beadwork,” McLaughlin said in his address to the crowd. “Better houses will be built and there will be more family harmony. You share in these improved lives.”