25th Annual COTS Walk

Posted On April 24, 2014 By | No Comments on 25th Annual COTS Walk

The 25th Annual COTS Walk kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4. The fundraiser is a 3.5-mile trek around downtown Burlington starting from Battery Park, following the route a person who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless might travel to receive shelter and services.

This is the one day of the year that the nationally recognized nonprofit opens its programs to the community so people can see how their donations make a difference. COTS serves about 2,000 people annually, and is the largest provider for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Vermont. Today, there are 24 children staying in COTS family shelters. On any given night, COTS shelters between 60-80 people, including children, elderly, people who are disabled and veterans.

The Walk – COTS’ largest single-day fundraiser — is a critical part of the organization’s overall fundraising for the year. This year’s fundraising event goal is $175,000.  Through the support of generous sponsors, all money raised by walkers goes directly to services. About 50 percent of COTS’ annual operating budget comes directly from community support.

Former “American Idol” finalist James Durbin will perform songs from his Wind-up Records April 8th release “CELEBRATE at this year’s Walk, thanks to Star 92.9. James was diagnosed with Asperger’s and Tourette’s Syndrome at a young age. James’ experience resulted in a passion for championing those in disadvantaged situations.

“I want to play real music for people and inspire them to succeed in ways that would have been meaningful for me as a kid. That’s why one of the greatest things through all of this has been to have a platform to perform for causes that mean something to me, like autism and Tourette’s events or being a WWE ‘Be A STAR’ spokesperson for their anti-bullying campaign. This is where wanting to be an artist began for me — feeling that complete enjoyment when you play for someone who’s truly affected by it,” said James, who had suffered from the hands of childhood bullies for having Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette’s Syndrome.

A partner of the WWE’s program Be A STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect), James works to promote anti-bullying, a message COTS also incorporates into its homelessness awareness outreach to children and teens.

“Star 92.9 is so happy, and proud, to have James Durbin in town to support an event we hold so close to our hearts,” said Jennifer Foxx of Star 92.9-FM. “James is an amazing performer, and an amazing human being.”

Up to 1,500 walkers of all ages, from schools, social and religious organizations, businesses and neighborhoods, participate. About 200 volunteers help make it happen, too.  The family-friendly event includes children’s activities, face painting, music, and free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for walkers. (A shorter route is available, particularly designed for families with young children.)

There will be a special free raffle for children: Presenting sponsor Flat Fee Real Estate has donated two Red Razor E100 Electric Kid Scooters to be raffled off for children at the Walk.

Special stops on the Walk this year are:

  • New interim home of the Daystation on Elmwood Avenue;
  • Site of where the Walk began: Special stop at First Congregational Church of Burlington, who hosted the first COTS Walk on April 1, 1990.
Also, be sure to see on the Walk:
  • University of Vermont Rally Cat at our office at 95 North Ave.;
  • Lake Monsters’ Champ at First Congregational Church;
  • Green Mountain Chorus at First Congregational Church;
  • Singer-songwriter Silent Mind at Battery Park;
  • The Dixie Six at Battery Park.

How to participate: Register online or call (802) 864-7402 for more information. Check-in begins at 1 p.m.; the walk begins at 2 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. The Walk itself takes about an hour.

COTS Walk Map: See Route

There is no minimum fundraising required for participation. However, walkers can elect to go the extra mile by taking the “challenge” and pledging to raise $1,000.  A challenge grant matches money raised by these walkers. Challenge Walkers also receive special recognition at the COTS annual meeting.

If you can’t join us, donations to walkers are welcomed, too.

This year’s Walk is Presented by Flat Fee Real Estate. We would like to thank our other generous sponsors, as well as many, many supporters:

  • Community Sponsors: VEIC and Efficiency Vermont
  • Media Sponsors: Star 92.9 and Planet 96.7, Free Press Media, WCAX
  • Corporate Partner: HomeBridge Financial Services
  • Route Sponsors: Dealer.com, Duncan*Wisniewski, Pomerleau Real Estate, MyWebGrocer
  • Site Sponsors: Ben & Jerry’s, BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, Casella Waste Management, Darn Tough Vermont, The Lodge at Otter Creek and The Lodge at Shelburne Bay, North Country Federal Credit Union, Vermont Tent Company
  • T-Shirt Sponsors: City Market; Delta Dental; Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew; The Dixie Six; Fletcher Allen Healthcare; Kave Audio; Queen City Printers; Redstone; VSECU; Gardener’s Supply Co.; Northwestern Vermont Board of Realtors.
  • Poncho Sponsors: Free Press Media, KeyBank
  • Inkind supporters: Costco, Creative Habitat, dok wright photography, Enterprise Rental, Green Mountain Chorus, Hannaford Brothers Co., Healthy Living, P&P Septic, PP&D Distribution Service, St. Michael’s College, Queen City Press, Staple’s, Starbuck’s, Sugarsnap, Symquest, University of Vermont, Verizon Wireless, Vermont Lake Monsters, Vermont Pure Springs, WB Mason, Wind Visuals.

Categories: Donations, Events, Fundraisers, Homeless Prevention, Homelessness, Housing, Volunteers
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