While Ryan Thirlwall walks from Nanaimo to Esquimalt this month, he’ll be thinking about his own family and the many others whose lives have been impacted by bullying.
On March 14, the Central Saanich father of two, will set out from Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Mall and walk 125 kilometers to Esquimalt. It’s a repeat of the same walk he did in 2012 to help raise money for anti-bullying and early childhood education programs through the Boys and Girls Club of Victoria.
Did we mention that he’s doing his walk in a pink tutu and tights?
“Yeah, it’s a gimmick,” he said during an interview at his workplace in Langford. “But if that’s what I have to do to raise awareness, it’s a good thing for me to do.”
Thirlwall faced high winds, sleet and rain on his first walk four years ago and said he’s prepared to face the same obstacles again. He’s walking again, so long after his first one, because he’s fed up with witnessing acts of violence, discrimination and bullying among children and adults.
“I thought when I first did this that my walk was going to be about anti-bullying. It’s really about the victims and even the people who are bullies. They need support and help to deal with the conditions that lead them there.”
He said his fundraising goal of $5,000 will help the Boys and Girls Club’s in-school programs that offer children support options – not only to help victims of bullying, but to try and deal with the root causes of bullying.
Thirlwall said the walk this time means a lot more to him, as his own daughters have grown and have faced their own situations with bullying in school. After four years, he said, the world seems to be a different place – as the scale of aggression seems to be growing. It’s not just children facing these issues, he said, but adults.
“Look at the state of politics south of the border, there is so much bullying and aggression. I see so many cowardly acts of violence and indecency towards each other.”
That’s why Thirlwall added he hopes he can inspire schools, parents and children to consider taking up his cause and offering a Pink Tutu Walk at around the same time as the Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying campaign. Bringing more people together to raise awareness about the issue, he said, is his main goal – so that his efforts don’t simply fall by the wayside.
Thirlwall starts his Pink Tutu Walk Monday, March 14 at 7 a.m. at Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Mall. He’ll walk through the city and follow Highway 19 through Ladysmith, Duncan, over the Malahat through Langford and into downtown Victoria via Douglas Street. A turn at Bay Street will take him into Esquimalt and his goal: the main office of the Boys and Girls Club of Victoria on Esquimalt Road. His route will be visible and he hopes that wearing the tutu and tights, at least, will get people’s attention. Thirlwall said he’s hoping to complete his walk in 24 to 28 hours. In 2012, he finished it in 27-and-a-half hours.
To donate, Thirlwall said he encouraged people to visit the Boys and Girls Club website (bcgvic.org) and use the donation link and the words ‘Pink Tutu’ or ‘Tutu Walk’ when submitting a donation.