His recent tweets may have peaked your interest, and now Jeromy Farkas can summit all up in one word.
A few months off of his quarter-million-dollar fundraising trek from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail for Big Brothers and Big Sister Calgary, Farkas is donning the hiking gear once again.
This time, it’s Jeromy’s Climb for Community Health in support of The Alex Community Health Centre.
For the first 25 days of January, Farkas will climb 25 peaks west of Calgary with the goal of raising $25,000. That money will go to the Alex’s mobile healthcare services for marginalized Calgarians and those experiencing homelessness.
McLeod Law will also be committing up to $15,000 in matching donations to help donors increase their impact.
LWC caught up with the former city councillor and 2021 mayoral candidate after completing his 10th mountain – Prairie Mountain – on Monday afternoon. He said after the success of the BBBS campaign it would have been easy to springboard right back into politics.
“I figured I’d just throw out the playbook,” Farkas told LiveWire Calgary.
“A lot of people thought after I came back from the trip from Mexico to Canada that I was going to be jumping into politics right away. I figured that there’s other ways that I can make an impact.”
The Alex’s CEO, Joy Bowen-Eyre said that they’re grateful to Farkas for his support of their work.
“His incredible feat will not only raise much-needed funds for our organization, but it will also raise awareness about the important work that we do,” she said.
Late last year, the Alex was selected as a partner with the Calgary police to deliver a mobile crisis response team pilot project. Its goal is to handle non-emergency calls that shouldn’t be handed off to the police.
Building profile, building capacity
Farkas said he knew of the services The Alex provided to Calgarians through his work as a city council. But the connection to them is more personal, he said.
“I grew up in East Calgary and the Alex has made a personal difference in my life and the lives of many others,” he said.
Right now, The Alex has nearly 400 medical staff, social workers, mental health specialists, peer supporters, educators delivering care to thousands of Calgarians. A pillar of their programming is their mobile health buses, which bring health care and social support to vulnerable Calgarians.
According to The Alex, there are more than 6,000 Calgarians on any given night who are homeless or have precarious housing. They’re often living with complex health and addiction issues. They can’t access traditional health systems.
“With decades of experience in mobile health care, The Alex knows that being in the right place at the right time is critical to meeting the needs of those who experience barriers to good healthcare,” said Bowen-Eyre.
“We are ensuring that more Calgarians will be able to have access to judgment-free, dignified health care, leading to better outcomes for individuals and across the health care system.”
Farkas said the Alex makes change and moves mountains every day.
“They like to say that they rarely ask themselves ‘if,’ but instead ask how,” he said.
“I thought that that was just an incredible motto and central mission to the kind of challenge that I’m tackling here and throughout life. We all have our mountains to climb but we don’t need to go it alone. And, given the central challenge of this campaign. I can think of no better partner than The Alex.”
Using the momentum to help others
Farkas said when he returned home from his PCT adventure, people approached him about follow-up efforts.
“When I was thinking about what I just did with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to repeat that – whether that’s physically capable or mentally willing is another part – but I wanted to do something in some ways that were a little bit shorter, but no less ambitious,” he said.
So, he chose mountains.
The former councillor is an avid hiker. He’s skilled in the backcountry, with more than 2,000 hours of preparation and training.
Safety is key: Route selection, pacing, nutrition, weather, knowing the hazards – and your limits.
His peaks will vary in length and difficulty. He said Mount Yamnuska is a difficult trek in the summer, let alone when there’s knee-deep snow near the peak. Prairie Mountain is a bit easier. They’ll be anywhere from three hours roundtrip to 10. Anyone adventurous enough is free to join him, Farkas said.
Supporters can track his progress via Strava (like they could for the PCT trek) and he’ll be posting regular social media updates. He’ll also be sharing stories about the people he meets on the trails.
‘The community invested in me’: Farkas
Farkas said it was the right time to start something new. Charities have a tough time raising cash at the turn of a new year – a time when community need can be at its greatest.
A political comeback may have been easier, Farkas said. There are safe Conservative seats federally or provincially he could have run for. It’s not about politics. There are quicker ways to get back in than 25 mountains or a 4,000+ kilometre hike, Farkas laughed.
“I’m at a point in my life where I want to double down on my professional skills in this way,” he said.
“I really do feel like the community invested in me. They gave me a certain platform. They gave me a profile and I just feel like I would be letting down so many people if I didn’t continue to use the profile that I have to be able to spotlight organizations like The Alex.”
Donors can contribute here to Jeromy’s Climb for Community Health in support of the Alex Community Health Centre.
There are 16 days left for Farkas to reach the goal of $25,000.