ELORA — The Coldest Night of the Year has gone to the horses.
The annual fundraiser, which involves a cold, winter walk to raise money for Elora House, which helps women transition from sex trafficking to independent and healthy living, takes place on Saturday Feb. 25.
“We’re going to be doing a 5K walk at the Elora Raceway. So the raceway has allowed us to walk the track basically,” said Shannon Frizzell, event director for the Coldest Night of the Year and board member of Elora House.
“And we have, I think we’re at 15 teams but our goal is $100,000 and registration is at four o'clock. Then we do the walk and wrap up at 7:30.”
The pandemic forced the Coldest Night of the Year event to run virtually the past two years. This will be the first in-person one.
“Unfortunately, because of COVID, we’ve had virtual events. So this is our first live event. So we’re very excited about it. It’s a new experience for us. Because of COVID, we were only able to do virtual for the last two years.”
At this point, $10,920 has been raised. Frizzell believes they can reach their goal of $100,000.
The ultimate goal of this particular fundraiser is to support Elora House.
“Elora House is a shelter for victims of human trafficking. So women have been involved in human trafficking and have decided to leave the life and want to get into a safe place.”
The women who stay at Elora House have the opportunity to be supported as they transition to a healthy way of life where they can make healthy choices.
“So our main function is shelter. But we also provide all of the resources for the women to get back into society.”
The shelter offers several supports for the survivors.
“So we give them career counselling, they have a psychologist that comes in and provides some mental health support.”
Elora House opened in January of 2020. It has room for four residents to stay in and has helped dozens of Wellington County women escape sexual exploitation.
“We started just before the pandemic. So our doors opened literally in January, the year the pandemic hit. So there was a little bit of a delay.”
“And we have four residents in the house generally at a time. There’s four rooms in the home. The shelter location was actually donated by private donors.”
“We operate as a non profit, on private donations and fundraising events like Coldest Night of the Year.”
“So we’ve helped, I would say, 50 or so women now. And they’re all local, Wellington County victims.This is a local issue."
To donate, register to walk or volunteer, go here.
Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.