Druker’s drive to raise awareness results in 14 hour odyssey Two other Whistlerites endure the trek By Paul Andrew A 63.5 kilometre trek on Vancouver Island June 5 almost got the better of some of the people who took part in the journey to raise money for the Western Canadian Paediatric AIDS Society, which has it headquarters in Whistler. Led by Maxine Druker, executive director and co-founder of the WCPAS, the idea was to raise $25,000 for a summer camp for children with AIDS on the Sunshine Coast. But after doing The Great Walk in 14.10 hours, Druker says she grossly underestimated the difficulty of the marathon. "Try standing in the rain for 14 hours. I’m not sure if my body will ever be the same again," Druker said Tuesday. "Muscles hurt that I didn’t know even existed." Druker and Whistlerites Brian Buchholz and Emanuela Bertoia, along with Jock McGrandle, started the fund-raising walk at 4 a.m. last weekend, along with 900 others. However, only 500 people managed to complete the journey, which had 12 checkpoints along the way. All participants were awarded a certificate that noted the time it took to complete "North America’s Toughest Walk-a-thon," between Gold River and Tahsis. "It’s quite an accomplishment. I mean, at first you’re ready to go and do it, thinking you’ll finish without much problem. But people were dropping like flies," Druker explained. "Half-way through the walk you’re thinking; ‘Oh my god, I have to do that much again.’ So it’s a real bonding experience." Druker had nothing but praise for the people who accompanied her and for those who pledged money toward her effort to raise money for Camp Moomba, which accommodates children who are infected or affected by AIDS. Although she fell some $20,000 short of her original goal, Druker is looking for a corporation which is willing to match the amount raised, therefore letting the camp this summer accommodate more children in need of counselling. "We haven’t added up all the pledges yet because we still have to collect the money. But I think it will add up to about $5,000. I just want to thank everyone who helped and who pledged." Whistler businesses which helped out with pledges are: Chef Bernard’s Cafe, Nesters Market, Garibaldi Graphics, Whistler Lion’s Club, Mountain Crests, L’Atelier Interior Designers, and Mountain Wellness Centre. Individual Whistler and Vancouver residents also contributed. So the question is, will Druker do the Great Walk next year? "If I did I would have to start training tomorrow," she said. "But I think the best idea would be to get more people to come out and do it with us." Editor’s note: Photo included for this article has Druker and Jock McGrandle pictured.