The Coldest Night of the Year 2019!

Brian Ellis, Event Sponsor, Rest Stop Sponsor, and 9 time Team leader, describing the Coldest Night walk and how you can help.

Team Leaders Share: Why Walk!?

On February 23, hundreds of tuque-wearing walkers will hit the streets of Kitchener and Waterloo for the Coldest Night of the Year. Their objective? To raise $165,000 to help homeless, hungry and hurting folks through Ray of Hope Community Centre (ROHCC) programs.

There are almost 60 KW teams (so far), made up of families, church groups, ROHCC meal teams, local businesses and schools.  And every team is led by a team captain who takes on the roles of lead fundraiser, cheerleader and coach.

Team captains are the backbone of the walk. They encourage their team’s fundraising efforts, answer questions and make sure everyone has someone to walk with. Meet three of the dedicated people who help make Kitchener-Waterloo’s CNOY event so successful:

Realtor Brian Keith Ellis leads Team HOPE. He also sponsors the rest stops, where walkers can warm up with hot chocolate and refuel with a healthy snack.

Glynis Burkhalter is the program director for Ray of Hope’s Youth Addictions Program. She heads up 180 Below, made up of Youth Addictions staff.

Although Jon Hill recently retired after decades with Ray of Hope, he’s still supporting our mission. Jon leads the Hillee Hikers.

We asked these dedicated team captains why they “walk for the ROHCC”. They shared what motivates them along with some great advice for walk day.

What inspires you to participate in the Coldest Night of the Year?

Brian Keith Ellis, his wife and two small daughters sit in front of a fireplace while wearing CNOY toques.
Team HOPE leader Brian Keith Ellis and family

“Seeing the need of so many homeless and marginalized people that suffer daily with things I take for granted inspires me to raise money while making others aware of this growing problem in our communities.” – Jon

“People are in need, and we have to do something. This is part of that something. Almost anyone can participate. If you can’t walk, you can donate. Even better, do both! And invite friends, family, colleagues, church members, etc. to do the same!” – Brian

What is your favourite part of the walk?

“The last few years I’ve been a route ranger rather than a walker. I particularly enjoy the moment when walkers pass my spot on the way out, and then cheering them on as they return. Walking with such a large number of people who are for the same cause changes the feelings of being out walking at night – it feels safer and more open-hearted. It is challenging to do a walk before supper – that brings home the point that the people we walk for do that most days.” –Glynis

“I love the fellowship with so many compassionate people being part of something so important with so many here and across the country.” – Jon

“My favourite part about the walk is seeing so many people, so excited and passionate, doing something to help people in need. It really is a community movement, which has turned into a national movement. I love seeing this event grow. We must help those who really need that hand up. Ray of Hope is so loving, everyone can feel it. That is priceless. Lives are being changed.” – Brian

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of doing the walk?

Jon Hill wearing a CNOY tuque while walking on a trail
Jon Hill of the Hillee Hikers

“Just do it! Get a friend or two to sign up as well, or join a team with others on it you know. And stay for supper afterwards at Ray of Hope.” – Brian

“Come out and get a hint of a taste of what it is like for someone who has no choice but to walk in all weathers if they want to eat, because there is no money for food after they pay the rent and get a bus pass.” – Jon

“Don’t bring your dog – it’s congested out there. Dress to be warm and safe, not cool – everyone else is dressed to be warms, so not-cool fits in nicely. it’s very enjoyable to walk with other folks, so plan for that.” –Glynis

What message would you send to our guests, the people whom the walk supports?

“We walk in this event as a way to recognize the need, and partner with Ray of Hope to offer a meal and good fellowship in a warm place for anyone in need.” – Jon

“It gets better. There are people who care. Life is very challenging. It is not easy. But we need each other. Together, we can navigate this crazy thing called life, and make it better, one step at a time.” – Brian

To join our team (TEAM HOPE!!), or to donate, please visit:

Our team has raised over $3,000 so far, but Ray of Hope is behind on their goal, and these last few days before the walk could make all the difference of those in need in winter. Thank you.


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