Emotional, amazing, unreal, life-changing, incredible. These are words people have used to describe Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s first ever Worldwide Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History – a trek through the Andean mountains of Peru ending at Machu Picchu.
During Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month (May), more than 60 trekkers began their journey on the very same weekend that thousands across Canada also walked in local communities to raise awareness for the disease, which currently affects more than 4,300 people in Canada.
Our intrepid trekkers were guided across mountains, over peaks, through valleys, and along the ancient and famed Inca Trail, spending days hiking and nights camping – all with the common goal: to create a world without cystic fibrosis.
To participate in this remarkable challenge, trekkers needed to raise a minimum of $4,200 each. CF Canada was ecstatic to share with the group that together they raised more than $360,000 towards CF research and care! An incredible feat!
We are so proud of our Worldwide trekkers and the people who supported them. We want to say THANK YOU for mobilizing, fundraising and caring.
Here are some testimonials from our trekkers:
“We all instantly felt connected and bonded closely like a family”. – Mel Bilko (Group 1)
“I took on this challenge because as a mom of two daughters with cystic fibrosis this is exactly what I would do for my girls: carry mountains, move mountains and even climb a mountain!” –Tammy Strong (Group 2)
“To see the wonders of civilizations entirely unlike anything we are familiar with. To have an opportunity to interact with these people who live such different lives than we do! The beauty of the mountains, glaciers, waterfalls is amazing!” – John Ross (Group 3)
“I am the mother of 3 beautiful children; the oldest has cystic fibrosis. I would recommend this challenge to everyone. In fact, I would do it again tomorrow if I could. The landscapes were magnificent, the organization was well above my expectations and we raised more money than I could have hoped. We surpassed ourselves and showed courage and determination every day of the challenge. Most importantly, what kept us going was the cause.” – Marilyne Levert (Group 1)
To share a glimpse of their experience, our trekkers shared a bit about their time in Peru:
They started their journey with two days in Cusco, acclimatizing to the altitude on a walking tour of the city in the surrounding areas of Cusco while learning more about the archaeological sites in the area.
“Our connection in Cusco was seamless. We arrived a day before the tour began so we organized a taxi through The Hotel, La Casa de Don Ignacio.
At the airport, we met another person who was also on Group #1 and we shared a cab to the hotel. Meeting the rest of our team at breakfast the next morning at the Hotel was also very easy. All of the Peruvian guides and the hotel staff made sure that we had everything we needed at every leg of our journey. Charity challenge put together an incredible team to ensure we had a fun and memorable experience.” – Joanne Lovell (Group 1)
Day 3, the group went to the Lares Valley (four and a half hours by drive). The group stopped at the famous Lares hot springs for a swim and lunch. After lunch the trek began with a 4-5hours hike to the small village of Cuncani, where the group camped overnight.
”Today was awe-inspiring to say the least. The bus ride to Lares Hot Springs took us along a crazy (some would say perilous) road; narrow with sheer drops off one side and a route that switch-backed the mountainside in hairpin turns like I’ve never experienced (especially not in a huge bus!). We were pleased to make it in one piece and got our first real taste of hiking in the Andes on our trek today, with steep rocky terrain, incredible views, rickety bridges for river crossings and local ladies selling their hand-woven wares along the path. The entire 5-hour hike we were accompanied by a very cute stray dog, that we named Panchito. We were hot in the sun, but as soon as it set we realized how cold it could be at night and were all rugged up by the time we reached Cuncani village school, where we were grateful to collapse into our tents and have a hot cup of cocoa.” – Aisha Champness (Group 2)
On day 4 and 5, the group hiked to the small community of Huacahuasi and had the opportunity to meet the locals. Then, they went to the Ranrayoc valley passing the small community of Puňunayoc.
“Days 4 and 5 were the most challenging days of our trek, reaching altitudes of over 4000 metres on both days. The sight of soaring mountain peaks and a peaceful lake were spectacular, although dwarfed by the insight resulting from the physical challenges of lungs struggling for oxygen and muscles pushed to the limit, which provided powerful reminders of our cause and deeper appreciation of the strength and courage of friends and family with CF. Reflecting at the end of Day 5, each of us acknowledged having finished those days changed in some measure, and grateful for the experience” – Diane Vetter (Group 3)
On day 6 and 7, the group arrived in Machu Picchu and trekked on the traditional Inca trails towards the Sun Gate.
“Our final two days of the trek were the most awe inspiring! Hiking 8 hours in blistering sun and most of us running out of water did not diminish our excitement for hiking to revered locations such as Wiñay Wayna, the waterfall, the Sun Gate, of course, Machu Picchu. Getting to see one of the wonders of the world almost entirely to ourselves was an amazing experience. Visiting Machu Picchu the next day was equally moving. It would be impossible to list all the amazing moments of the trip but suffice it to say, it was the journey of a lifetime.” – Joanne Lovell (Group 1)