The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) welcomed over 170 donors to The Burlington Performing Arts Centre for this year's annual Donor Recognition Event. The event was punctuated with major gift announcements and donors were galvanized as personal stories about people's relationships with the Bruce Trail gave the evening special meaning. The Hamilton Spectator's Editor in Chief Paul Berton shared the podium to introduce the evening's speakers. This year, the audience was thrilled by a spectacular announcement.
In 2012 the Bruce Trail Conservancy launched its 50th Anniversary Milestones Project. Through this project the Conservancy will raise funds to secure and steward 5,000 acres of Niagara Escarpment land containing the Bruce Trail, between 2012 and 2017. Last evening, Beth Kümmling, Executive Director of The Bruce Trail Conservancy, announced that the Gosling Foundation has pledged over the next 4 years, $1 million towards the 50th Anniversary Milestones Project. She explained, "The Gosling Foundation's gift will be the spark to ignite this campaign. And having Philip Gosling, one of our founders, celebrate his lifelong commitment to this organization and to the Bruce Trail - 50 years later, with this monumental gift - speaks volumes about what the Bruce Trail means to Philip and the impact it continues to have on all of us. This million dollar gift will put in motion land acquisitions which otherwise wouldn't have been possible."
More major announcements and personal reflections on the importance of the Trail followed. Hamilton adventurers and philanthropists Fred Losani, Peter Turkstra, and Mark McLennan, shared a vivid and heartfelt account of their 30 days of hiking the Bruce Trail with their Bruce Trail Expedition for Kids trek. The hike was designed to share the wonders of the Bruce Trail with as many kids as possible, and raise funds for inner-city kids in Hamilton and for The Bruce Trail Conservancy. Last night the team announced they had raised $500,000 for their charities of choice, including $50,000 for the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
Personal reflections on the importance of the Bruce Trail continued with a touching tribute from Rob Simmt in celebration of his wife, Beth, and her love of the Bruce Trail. The Simmt family donated this year in her memory.
The evening also featured a review of the past fiscal year, during which the BTC received $2,239,068 in donations of cash and securities. The Provincial and Federal governments provided 2 percent - about $55,000. Organizations, foundations and corporations generously provided 13 percent - about $290,000. The other 85 percent - a staggering $1.9 million - came from individuals. The numbers clearly demonstrate the Bruce Trail is a cause that is near and dear to many, and it is these individuals who are donating and making a lasting impact on the preservation of the Niagara Escarpment. This past year their contributions helped preserve 10 beautiful Niagara Escarpment nature reserves, totalling 540 acres and valued at $2.3 million. Many of these new nature reserves contain rare and or endangered species. Without the support of the thousands of BTC donors, these irreplaceable pieces of the Niagara Escarpment could not be secured in perpetuity.
The Bruce Trail Conservancy is a charitable organization committed to establishing a conservation corridor containing a public footpath along the Niagara Escarpment, in order to protect its natural ecosystems and to promote environmentally responsible public access to this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
For more information about the Bruce Trail and the Bruce Trail Conservancy, please call 1.800.665.HIKE or visit www.brucetrail.org.