Stepping up — all 440 stairs — to tackle downtown poverty in Edmonton

Edmontonians climbed flights of stairs for a good cause on Tuesday.

At least 100 people were expected to rise to the occasion, taking the 440-step trip to the top of the downtown ATB building on Jasper Avenue in support of the United Way. 

“Working downtown, you see that poverty a bit more every day,” said Jenny Albers, United Way campaign chair with the City of Edmonton in an interview on CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.

“We wanted to do something together to really get downtown Edmontonians involved in the United Way, to learn more about it and be able to climb some stairs, too, in a really neat building.”

Looking to get sweaty today for a good cause? Find out how to get a killer view of Edmonton while supporting the United Way. 5:37

Participants in the first-ever YEG Stair Climb paid $22 to scale 22 flights of stairs in the building starting at 7 a.m. The event was expected to take registrations and walk-ins until 7 p.m. 

City employee Katie Hayes made the climb with about 10 colleagues before the start of the work day. 

Getting physical

City employees Katie Hayes and Mary Beth Bryne at the start of the YEG Stair Climb on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (Submitted by Katie Hayes)

“It was a great way to get some physical activity in, also as a way to support the United Way,” Hayes said. 

Her group played upbeat music for motivation on their way up. They were surprised to get to the top within three songs. 

“It was definitely not as hard as I thought it was going to be,” Hayes said. “I would encourage anyone thinking about going, you can surprise yourself with how physically fit your body is if you’re willing to go to the top.”  

It was the first stair climb for the United Way in Edmonton, and kicked off the city’s downtown campaign in collaboration with Stantec, ATB Financial and MacEwan University.

The initiative will also include walking tours to some of the organizations supported by the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, including downtown shelters and service centres. 

“Being able to go and walk or go and volunteer at some of the organizations the United Way supports would also be a great opportunity for Edmontonians,” Albers said. 

Proceeds from the stair climb will be spent locally through 50 different partner associations that run health programs and financial services for those living in poverty.

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