Will Rogers has planned a physically challenging summer for himself, to say the least.
The veteran Cloverdale paramedic is about to run, bike and swim over 960 km in June and July as part of his Million Dollar Journey to bring attention to the importance of stopping sexual exploitation of young people.
Rogers, a 51-year-old father of three, has once again planned three, separate ultra-long distance endurance feats to raise awareness and support for the Servants Anonymous Society of Surrey.
It’s a feat that’s become an annual test of his considerable iron will; in 2008, Rogers completed a 17-day run from Victoria to Penticton, logging the last 110 miles on crutches.
In 2009 and 2010 he swam the Georgia Strait (a distance of 24 km), then biked from Victoria to Penticton (440 km), and then ran another 500 km from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan.
The 2011 Million Dollar Journey will see Rogers reversing the run – this time he’ll run west from Penticton to Victoria, via Vancouver.
All that exercise is par for the course for Rogers, who has competed in Ironman Canada more than 20 times, along with the World Championship Ironman in Hawaii in 1989.
SAS supports women and victimized youth who are looking for a way out of the sex trade industry. The society runs safe homes, provides schooling and life skills training, and helps sexually exploited teens rebuild their lives – shoring up their self-esteem and offering practical life and occupational skills training.
Rogers says SAS helps reduce or even eliminate the need for social services.
“One girl on the streets can cost the social system $40,000 to $50,000 a year,” he says, adding the money earned through prostitution feeds other criminal enterprises – brutal, opportunistic criminality that Rogers firmly believes should not be tolerated by a modern, compassionate society.
“SAS saves lives, families, and tax dollars,” he says.
Government support accounts for just 14 per cent of SAS’s funding. Much of the rest comes from private donors, sponsors, and fundraisers.
He’s ultimately hoping to sign up 10,000 people who will commit $20 a month for 24 months, raising $5 million to provide SAS with ongoing funding. It would also allow SAS to expand – or bring the program to another community.
Rogers’ swim is June 23, the bike ride is July 1 and 2 and the 500-km run begins July 9.
Donations can be made at www.sasurrey.ca, at www.willrogers.ca, by calling 604-590-2304, by cheque to SAS at #201 7400 132 St. Surrey, B.C. V3W 4M7, or at any Bank of Montreal branch (account No. 706-8097584).