It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Travel Professionals International (TPI) is doing their part to raise funds and awareness.
Throughout October, the TPI family has been participating in the TPI Walktober Challenge, a new fundraising campaign whereby participants walk virtually along Canada’s Trans Canada Trail to raise money for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada.
Each day, participants complete a set number of steps, which moves them along a pre-set map that starts in Victoria, BC, and ends in St. John’s, NL.
The group encounters fun challenges and activities along the way, which you can see first-hand on social media by clicking the hashtag #TPIWalktoberChallenge.
Here, PAX checks in with Saskatoon, SK-based TPI advisor Dawn Patterson to learn more about her participation, and progress, in the challenge!
PAX: Why was it important for you to get involved in TPI’s Walktober Challenge in support of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada?
Dawn Patterson: I was instantly drawn to TPI's Walktober Challenge for a few reasons! I love being outside. Walking down by the river is one of my favourites pastimes and I absolutely love a good challenge. I have a few personal connections with breast cancer. My aunt is living with very advanced breast cancer and has been in various forms of treatments for years. I also have a cousin and a friend who very recently had breast cancer. As women, we tend to get so busy that we forget to take care of ourselves. This is such a huge opportunity to remind ourselves and our loved ones that we need to pay attention to any changes and take time to get them checked out.
PAX: Where are you getting your steps in?
Patterson: I typically walk in the mornings after I get the kids off to school. You will often find me near water if at all possible, which doesn't leave a lot of options when you live in a landlocked province! I love to walk the trails down by our river, or around various ponds within the city. But there's also the flip side. When I can't get out of the house (because I'm a single mom) I get my steps in the living room on my mini trampoline. It can't all be glamorous! I started out walking with my dog, who is huge and still a puppy, so I figured he should be out walking me! But now he hides when I head out, so I'm walking solo most of the time.
PAX: What are some goals you hope to achieve throughout this campaign?
Patterson: My biggest goal with this campaign was to get women thinking about their own health. We know breast cancer exists, but until it really touches our lives, we usually don't take the time to monitor our own bodies. We have to remember to look out for each other!
PAX: How have you gotten your clients involved?
Patterson: While I haven't had any clients sign up for the challenge, I have been receiving messages from them about how breast cancer has affected their lives. Lots of messages of appreciation, lots of stories shared, and a few tears shed. One thing that I strive for in my business is connection and I have found that a campaign like this really brings out the humanity of the "agent behind my bookings." I appreciate my clients so much and have built strong relationships based on trust and respect with so many of them. I am loving what they have been sharing with me as we walk through October.
PAX: Travel and fundraising are two things that go really well together. Why do you think this is?
Patterson: Our industry really does pull off some amazing fundraisers! I think this is possible because of our reach and our connections. Our social media reach is huge. Not only are we followed by our clients, but we are also followed by so many who dream of travel and have not yet travelled. We have clients from across Canada, and in some cases, from all around the world. And we have relationships with our clients. We get to know them so that we can better help them plan their vacations. We get to know them on a very personal level when we are planning repeat vacations, building off of their past experiences. When we post, people are listening and many of them already trust us. So when we pick a cause, we usually go big, and that enthusiasm draws people in!
PAX: What have you learned about yourself, and the travel industry, during this campaign?
Patterson: During this campaign I have seen some of the best of our industry! While we all pulled together and got each other through the last eight months, we now find ourselves feeling a bit aimless. We all thought we would be back on our feet and busy planning vacations again by now. But yet, here we are, feeling confused and frustrated, and trying to give each other enough hope to keep moving forward. This challenge has given us something to work towards, getting us up out of our chairs and into the fresh air, and something that we can all bond through. Even if that bonding is trying to figure out who on earth set these step counts so high every single day for an entire month! Travel agents are, by far, the most resilient group that I know. We show that by using this time to better ourselves and share this journey on social media with clients, friends and family to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.
Stay tuned as PAX brings you more from the #TPIWalktoberChallenge! Industry colleagues can access the official step tracking form for the challenge here and the campaign's official guidebook can be found here.
To make a donation to the #TPIWalktoberChallenge, click here.
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