After 11 years of existence in the community and more than $1.5 million in spinoffs, the Everest Challenge faces its biggest challenge yet. At a crossroads, with a brutal lack of resources, the board of directors decided to cancel the event scheduled for September 16 and 17 on the coast of Saint-Pierre in Rivière-du-Loup. Only the “top school” is maintained. A temporary hiatus… it may extend over time.
After a moment of reflection, its founder Yvan L’Heureux let out a long sigh. “That’s a very good question, very pertinent. The Board of Directors and I have taken this decision not lightly. It cracks me up, but there’s no other choice for this year. For 2024… the next few months will decide that”, he emphasized in a low voice.
The decision was based on the paucity of available resources, the accumulated delay in the preparation of the 2023 edition and the paucity of logistical means. The departure of the operations coordinator also had an impact, as it happened when Yvan L’Heureux himself wanted to leave the organization.
“I’m in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Trans-Pyrenees race. The clothes aren’t ready. We don’t have the resources and there’s a lot of stuff and I’m not there. I’m a challenger, but I know the decision to make this time isn’t “fun”. I don’t blame anyone but myself, I I wanted to do less, I did less.”
Already last year, Yvan L’Heureux announced his colors by indicating his desire to pass the torch. “At the top of the hill (St-Pierre), I told prefect Michel Lagasse that this was my last year. I also want to make time for my lover, my family, my clinic and my martial arts school, which I deserve. (…) I wanted to see if the challenge is ripe, if the population is ready to take up the challenge and take it further with the resources we have.
The torch found no taker. However, after two pandemic summers, last year was a success when more than 2,400 climbers climbed the coast of St-Pierre.
While Yvan L’Heureux insisted on devoting an average of twenty hours a week to its planning, the mandate was demanding not only in time but also in energy. In total, it’s been a decade since he closed his acupuncture clinic one day a week to devote himself to it, and that’s not counting evening and weekend hours.
“In 2018/2019, I gave the challenge a whole year, full time. I closed my clinic. My goal was to visit six cities in Quebec (Sherbrooke, Saint-Georges, La Pocatière, Rimouski, Temiskovata-sur-le-Lac and Rivière-du-Loup) and we did it. We succeeded… but the pandemic came.
Despite the isolation measures and curfew, the organization persevered and displayed creativity and selflessness. Yvan L’Heureux launched the “SolidariCourse” successfully. After telecommuting, we ran relays in Autauis, Quebec-Lévis, Montreal, Estrie, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, and Rivière-du-Loup. During these seven weeks, more than $58,000 was raised for food banks. The following year, in 2021, Yvan l’Heureux and his sidekick Richard Turgeon traveled 1,300 km in just ten days, sometimes by bike, sometimes by running, to raise funds, but above all, to keep the flame alive. But the wear and tear and health problems that limit the athlete today forced him to review his list of priorities.
“The pandemic has cut an ax in people’s desire to volunteer and participate in their community,” he explained. The latter also regrets the lack of commitment from the city of Rivière-du-Loup, which he blames for timid involvement. “We need more than barriers. It’s a major event, it’s a gem and the rest of the city is starved of sporting activity. An opportunity, and I insist on emphasizing it, an opportunity MRC [de Rivière-du-Loup]Led by Prefect Michel Lagasse, an extraordinary partner over time.
Does he feel he took the Everest challenge lightly? The answer was downright lapidary: “Yes. Yes, because I’ve seen cities bend over backwards for their events, including Sherbrooke, which welcomed us with open arms. I expected more here than where it was born.
Yvan L’Heureux accepted it, as did the board of directors. “I don’t want to hold it at arm’s length anymore. Boards are the most valuable resource, extraordinary people who give time. Time because unlike money, it doesn’t come back. This year, we couldn’t present the challenge because we wanted to manage it. Next year? I don’t know.”
The manager did not hide that it was impossible to replace the departure of Regis Malenfonte, whom he considered the heart of the organization. However, he hopes that the École au Sommet, which he considers his friend’s most important legacy to the challenge, will continue over time even if it is taken over by school service centers.
“It does not belong to me. The coast is always there. I am a match, an initiator. If the mobilization starts, I will be very proud and happy.
For him, a new locomotive was needed to pull the challenge to victory.
School at the Summit
Note that the École au Sommet module will be held this year. The event will take place on the morning of Friday, September 15. The organization therefore expects more than 1,600 students on the coast of St-Pierre to take up the challenge. “Our mission has always been to shake things up, it’s at the heart of our mission and it’s the creation of Regis Malenfont. I’m very happy to run a school at the top. Our base is young people and moving forward with them is very, very important,” commented Mr. L’Heureux. .
The organization wants to reassure people who have registered for one of the other modules such as Macadam Ultra, Macadam Ado or Team Challenge 2023 that they will be fully reimbursed. Additionally, the donations collected so far will be distributed to the recipient organizations as per the plan.
The challenge in a nutshell
Created in 2012, the Everest Challenge has donated $1.5 million to more than 400 organizations. More than 20,000 participants responded to the call. Everest Challenge is the first organization to return 100% of the donations received.