Published: Friday, December 11, 2009
Holly McGimpsey believes so much in CWAV that she did the Great Lake Walk to raise funds for them.
When 61-year-old Holly McGimpsey made a last minute decision to sign up for the Great Lake Walk around Lake Cowichan last September her sons were aghast.
"You can't do that, you've never done anything like that in your life," said her oldest son, an ironman triathlon competitor.
"Mom, you have to train first for at least three months, said the other son, also a fitness guru. Everyone Holly met discouraged her from signing up for the fundraising walk.
But Holly was determined against all odds to complete the 56 kilometre walk. She desperately wanted to raise money for Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable and disenfranchised women and children in the Cowichan Valley. After all, CWAV had been an enormous support to Holly, a victim of domestic violence.
"I missed the cut-off, I had no runners and I didn't know what to expect, but I was determined to walk for CWAV. I wanted to give something back," she said. "The last two years of my life have been so difficult. I've been depressed, humiliated and ashamed that abuse could have happened to me. Violence turns your life upside down."
CWAV staff provided Holly with counselling to help her cope with depression and anxiety. They are working hard to help her get on her feet again with a solid foundation of self-confidence. A CWAV Society victim services worker accompanied Holly to court helping her manoeuvre through the administrative and bureaucratic labyrinth.
"I sincerely believe that if CWAV hadn't been around I would not be here today. I was in such bad shape," she said. "I always feel safe with CWAV because there is such compassion, warmth and understanding. These people get it, they understand the trauma women like me go through and they help us get through it."
Great Lake Walk organizers allowed Holly to qualify for the race although she had missed the deadline. Her oldest son gave her money to buy runners and her neighbour loaned her an i-Pod to listen to her favourite tunes along the way. She trained hard for two weeks. She even practised sleeping in her car so she would be ready for the early morning start at Youbou.
Holly completed the run in 13 hours and one minute without blisters or a sore muscle. As she approached the finish line her favourite song One from the show Chorus Line belted out through her i-Pod speakers.
Holly says, "My goal was to finish. My focus was to raise funds and awareness for the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society. Their ongoing support and resources enabled me to reach this milestone and once again challenge myself and take back a piece of my life. Apparently (who knew!) 'these feet were made for walking, and that's just what I'll do'! This was a labour of love, and I loved the labour. My goal now is to enter more races to help myself and many others who are in need. Why? Because I CAN."
Cowichan Violence Against Women is a United Way supported and funded organization.