Aspiring to great heights

Thousands step up for charity during Toronto’s Enbridge CN Tower Climb

How do you face Canada’s most grueling vertical marathon?

Simple. One step at a time.

In mid-October, more than 8,100 climbers scaled the 1,776 steps of Toronto’s iconic CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in Canada, as part of the 37th annual Enbridge CN Tower Climb.

And among those putting their best foot forward during the yearly United Way Toronto fundraiser were about 160 members of the Enbridge team.

“How else do you deal with any difficult challenge? One step at a time,” says Michelle Dixon Parent, an Enbridge Gas Distribution customer financial assistance manager who served as Enbridge’s team captain for the 2014 climb. “I think it’s a perfect metaphor for some members of our society who overcome great challenges with support from United Way. They may be struggling to adjust as newcomers to Canada, or dealing with health issues that isolate them or set them back, but they just keep going.

“If you look at it another way,” she adds, “during the Enbridge CN Tower Climb, we’re elevating ourselves to lift others – so they can have better possibilities.”

The vertical equivalent of more than 140 storeys, the Enbridge CN Tower Climb is a signature event of Enbridge Gas Distribution’s annual United Way campaign in Ontario. And this year, as with previous editions, EGD employees and contractors were joined by colleagues from Enbridge’s Green Energy, Power Transmission, IT, Liquids Pipelines, and Enterprise Services divisions.

In all, six CN Tower climbs were held as part of the 2014 event, with two apiece on Oct. 16, 19, and 20. All proceeds to go United Way Toronto, which supports a network of 200 community agencies in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) while strengthening neighborhoods and promoting long-term change.

Since Enbridge became the title sponsor of the CN Tower Climb in 2001, more than $21-million has been raised, with upwards of 40,000 individual sponsors donating every year.

“Enbridge Gas Distribution is proud to support this event, because it’s about more than a race to the top – it’s about strengthening our city,” says EGD president Glenn Beaumont. “Thank you to everyone – climbers, volunteers, and supporters – for making this year’s climb a success.”

EGD employees’ overall United Way campaign continues until Nov. 7. Last year, the employee-driven EGD campaign in Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara raised more than $2.2-million, including employee donations, special events, and corporate matching.

Members of the Enbridge team prepared for this unique physical challenge by tackling the stairs, twice a week for up to three months, at various office buildings. Some members added to the training regimen by making use of staircases in hilly neighborhoods around Toronto, and as far as the Niagara escarpment.

“We had some really fit people on our team – triathletes, and cyclists with the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer – and we also had people who used the event as a goal to improve their own personal fitness,” says Dixon Parent, who’s participated in the Enbridge CN Tower Climb for nearly a decade.

“As far as I’m concerned, it beats waiting for the elevator any day.”