Hundreds of walkers, cyclists, rowers and — for the first time this year — Opti sailors will put in some miles for good causes on May 6, during the 36th edition of the Convex End-to-End.
An annual highlight for many Bermudians, the End-to-End has become one of the island’s best-loved and productive charity events. Since its launch in 1988, it has raised a total of $6.5 million and distributed 213 charity grants.
Anne Mello has been heavily involved in most of that history, having served on the End-to-End board since 1993. For her, the attraction has been the camaraderie between organisers, volunteers and participants, as well as a powerful feelgood factor with a community reach that has grown over the years.
During Mello’s three decades working with the End-to-End, it has grown from a small event run by a handful of trustees, who thought it would be fun to make the 24.1-mile walk from St. George to Dockyard to raise money for charity, into a giant on the charity calendar that generates hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the Third Sector.
“Probably the greatest feeling of affection I have for the event comes from not only the participants, but the volunteers who are there, come rain or shine,” Mello said. “We are so fortunate that they come every year with big smiles and a good attitude — very important when some of the participants have lost some of their good humour on the way!
“By the time you get to Somerset, it’s like a big party. People are dancing, there is music and cheering and an enormous sense of accomplishment for the participants. It’s all the people involved who make it so special.”
Each year the event chooses a small group of charities to benefit from the End-to-End proceeds. The focus is on the needs of the community and the support of the Railway Trail, which forms most of the event’s walking route.
In 2023, the five selected charities are:
- Bermuda Zoological Society: leads the Micro Forest Project, which restores the native ecosystem along the Railway Trail.
- Gina Spence Productions: provides grief and loss support for children affected by gang and gun violence.
- The Eliza DoLittle Society: provides healthy and nutritious solutions to the food insecure.
- The Skills Development Programme: a training opportunity for young people aged 19 to 25 interested in horticulture and landscaping.
- Vision Bermuda: dedicated to empowering people who are blind or vision impaired to learn how to live well with vision loss.
Choosing beneficiaries, which entails a series of rigorous reviews, is never easy. “This year, we had over 40 proposals, so you can imagine how difficult that was,” Mello said. “Covid-19 revealed a lot of weaknesses — the pain points in our community are now more apparent than they were before. Each year we try to make choices that will strengthen the community we love.
“The environment is also uppermost in our minds and we are happy to support the BZS Micro Forest Project. We regard the Railway Trail as the home of the End-to-End and we love to support programmes that help to enhance it.”
Sustainability will be a stronger theme than ever this year and organisers seek to minimise the event’s environmental impact, with a “leave-no-trace” message and an effort to avoid single-use plastics.
Convex, the title sponsor, has been an excellent partner for the End-to-End, Mello said, providing not only funding, but also expertise and resources in areas like marketing. Stephen Catlin, the Convex executive chairman, is continuing his longstanding support for the event and tends to make personal appearances at the start and at some of the 19 water-stops on the route.
The Government has also been a consistent supporter, particularly with transportation in the form of extra ferries and buses on hand at Dockyard to help tired participants get home.
Platinum sponsors Deloitte and Butterfield Bank have also backed the End-to-End for many years — and a healthy rivalry has emerged between the two, Mello explained. “We have an annual award for the best water-stop, and Deloitte have won it for several years with their water-stop at Somerset Bridge,” she said.
“But Butterfield have put them on notice that they’re fighting for that. It’s wonderful that we don’t just have financial support from sponsors, but their people really get involved in the fun spirit of the event too.”
The End-to-End has attracted 52,500 participants in its history, so how many does Mello expect this year? “I would estimate 2,000-plus and we’ll be delighted for every participant over that!”