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Frank Archibald, left, Dave Morritt, Randy Pepper and Tim Belanger take part in the 100-kilometre Trailwlker hike to raise money for Oxfam Canada.

The Donor: Randy Pepper

The Gift: Helping to organize Oxfam Trailwalker Canada

The Reason: To raise money for Oxfam Canada

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When Toronto lawyer Randy Pepper lived in Hong Kong in the 1980s, a friend introduced him to a unique and gruelling fundraising event.

The British army had started something in 1981 called the "trailwalker" a 100-kilometre endurance test across Hong Kong that involved teams of four walkers. The objective was to cover the distance in 48 hours. The walk started out as a way to raise money for an British army pension fund and within a few years it evolved into a fundraiser for Oxfam Hong Kong.

Mr. Pepper participated in the walk with some other local lawyers and he never forgot the experience. When he returned to Canada, he became a director of Oxfam Canada and persuaded the organization to hold a similar event here. "We were looking for some kind of an event and the board decided, just as I was coming off, to try Trailwalkers," he recalled.

Mr. Pepper helped organize the first annual Oxfam Canada Trailwalker in 2009 and this year more than 100 teams are expected to do the walk on July 13.

This year's walk covers part of Ontario's Ganaraska Hiking Trail and begins near Wasaga Beach. Organizers hope to raise $800,000, more than double last year's total. Mr. Pepper has also included a special challenge for law firms; so far nearly a dozen firms have entered teams.

Canada joins 12 other countries in hosting an Oxfam Trailwalker, making it one of the largest fundraising events globally for London-based Oxfam International, a which has 15 affiliates around the world.

"Seeing an event like this that's kind of taken off from the Hong Kong days and become so large is wonderful," Mr. Pepper said. "It's a great way of supporting a great organization that does some amazing work."



pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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