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druker aids walk

Camp Moomba gains provincial support Children’s AIDS charity goes on ‘Great Walk’ By Paul Andrew Right about now, long-time Whistler resident and Western Canadian Pediatric AIDS Society co-founder Maxine Druker is one happy lady. A May 3 article published in the Vancouver Province newspaper has given the fledgling organization a boost in support beyond her wildest dreams. And the thought of being able to accommodate a more significant number of children infected or affected by AIDS this summer at Camp Moomba on the Sunshine Coast has all but overwhelmed Druker, who co-founded the opening of the WCPAS last summer in Whistler. "It’s been phenomenal, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing," Druker said Wednesday. "That’s the kind of exposure you can’t buy in an ad. We were able to access more kids in B.C. in several smaller communities," she said of the article. Druker is hoping this summer’s camp at the YMCA-operated Camp Elphinstone will have up to 60 children taking advantage of the week-long session, starting Aug. 29. Each child, between the age of 6 and 15 years old, will require $1,500 for the camp. Druker has a budget for 40 children, but the Great Walk from Gold River to Tahsis has the potential to raise some $25,000 on June 5 through pledges, Druker said. "This is the first year we are going to benefit from the Great Walk. Our goal was to join a fund-raising drive that already exists and is well established." The Great Walk is a 63.5 km. hike along a gravel road through scenic Vancouver Island wilderness. The well organized event has accommodations and travel arrangements for participants and takes note of the time to walk the route. Last year, the fastest man to compete the journey did it in four-and-a-half hours. The youngest to walk the distance was 6 years old; the oldest was 82 years old. The fastest woman accomplished the feat in just under six hours. For Druker, the opportunity to become involved in such a fund-raiser is almost as special as all the recent media exposure. She said she understands how much time and energy is required to raise funds for any worthy charity. And the relatively new organization, which has a similar counterpart in Eastern Canada, has kept her busy. "I was introduced to the issue by a man named Eric Waugh and we launched a world-wide campaign for a camp four years ago," Druker explained. "So I wanted to do the same thing in Western Canada. It’s really amazing what you can accomplish. The families get involved and are supportive of each other. And I just thought that maybe we can be a catalyst to help other groups develop their programs. "It’s an evolution we’ve got going here." To find out more about the Great Walk and information on sponsoring a child, call the WPCAS at 1-888-442-5437.