Mike Stahls has trekked some gnarly terrain over the past few years in his fundraising efforts, and the local real-estate agent is getting ready to do it again.
Stahls, of Orillia’s Royal LePage Real Quest Realty, went to Machu Picchu in Peru in 2015 and Iceland in 2017 as part of a fundraiser organized through the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. In 2019, he and more than 100 others will head to the Sahara Desert.
During his first two trips, Stahls raised money for Orillia’s Green Haven Shelter for Women. This time, he has decided to support the province-wide Assaulted Women’s Helpline.
“I have a network outside of Orillia, so I thought it would open up some more (fundraising) opportunities,” Stahls said.
Those taking part in the trip must raise at least $5,000 each. All of the money raised will go to the participants’ chosen causes. They’re paying for their own travel, equipment and other costs.
The cause is important to Stahls, who was a member of Green Haven’s fundraising committee.
“It also involves children,” he said. “It’s harder, probably, for women to leave someone who is being abusive if they have children.”
The challenges he’ll face in the desert are daunting — walking 100 kilometres over five days — but knowing where the money is going helps to motivate him, as does the support from his fellow travellers.
“It’s not easy by any means,” he said. “There are times you’re not sure you’re going to make it, but we all help each other out.”
It will also allow Stahls to check one more item off his bucket list.
“The first one (Machu Picchu), I got involved because it was always a place I wanted to go to. It was a great way to see it authentically,” he said.
Asked how he prepares for these types of trips, Stahls said walking is the best way. Traversing the desert terrain won’t be the only challenge. Getting there seems to be half the battle. After flying into Marrakech and touring the Moroccan city, he’ll hop into an open-air four-by-four for the long ride to the desert.
“They warned us, ‘If you’re prone to car sickness, bring medication,’” he said.
Stahls won’t be leaving until November 2019, but fundraising efforts are in full swing. To donate and to learn more about the trip, check out his fundraising page here.
More information about the Assaulted Women’s Helpline can be found here.