Lake Cowichan Gazette
Eight-year-old Alex Sawatzky would have participated in the Great Lake Walk for his very first time this year, making him both the youngest and most disenchanted member of team Hoola-gns.
Alex had planned to walk the Walk as a member of a tropically-themed relay team pieced together by his mother, Amanda Sawatzky, and fellow staffers from Cowichan Lake Community Services.
“There were seven of us altogether,” Amanda said. “We were going to form our team, called the Hoola-gns, partly because we were going to wear grass skirts, decorate our van up in a tropical-theme, and wear the really cool tie-dyed shirts we’d made. We were going to go loud and big.”
Relay teams were first introduced to the GLW this year as a means of boosting registration, and a team approach to the trek would have provided young walkers like Alex with “a perfect opportunity” to participate, explained Amanda.
“If his little body couldn’t handle it, he could let his team take over,” Amanda added. “So for him, it was probably most disappointing.”
Amanda, meanwhile, understands why dwindling participation led to the Walk’s cancellation.
Amanda participated in the GLW in 2010, she said, completing her solo circuit of the lake in “just over 10 hours.” As she rounded the lake on her pilgrimage, Amanda came to realize that the Walk’s success hinges entirely on the herculean efforts of volunteers.
“I was astounded by the rest stops and the organization of the Walk itself, and just how important it was as a walker to have that,” Amanda explained.
“I had never really thought it through before, but when you’re digging the bottom of the barrel at points, thinking ‘I’ve just got to keep going,’ and then you hit this rest stop and everyone was so supportive and cheerful. It was nice to know that you had that to look forward to.”
Having an appreciation for the sheer manpower required to run an event like the GLW, Amanda conceded that “there has to be (enough) walkers registered to justify that.”
Having aspired to participate in the GLW ever since his mother completed it in 2010, young Alex is crossing his finger in hopes it will return for 2014.
“For him, it was a bit more of a disappointment because it would have been his first time,” Amanda explained.
“For three years, he had been waiting for the opportunity. But when I shared the news with him, he said ‘OK, well hopefully next year.’ So we’ll see. And hopefully next year he will be able to be a part of it again.”