Ask a room of strangers about the Convex End-to-End and, nine times out of ten, they will have participated or volunteered; the tenth person will know someone who has done both.

As a fundraiser and physical challenge it’s like no other. First held in 1987, it has grown into a deeply woven tradition that’s part of our culture.

Anne Mello, chair of the Bermuda End-to-End Charitable Trust, loves that the event has passed down through generations.

Since fundraising began in 1988, 55,100 participants have raised $6.7 million for 219 charity grants.

Activities on Saturday, April 27 will benefit WindReach, Transformational Living Centre, Raleigh International, Coalition for the Protection of Children and Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia with additional donations to the Horticultural Skills Programme and St John’s Ambulance.

Just under 3,000 people usually participate; an equal number cheer them on.

“What many of the participants report back is they feel like they are a member of a community that they didn’t know existed,” Mello said. “We get a lot of expats, people who aren’t familiar with the Railway Trail, Bermuda residents who have never experienced the West End, particularly, in that way.”

Starla Williams, event manager, believes the social side of it is a big draw.

“I think there’s a whole wellness feel-good aspect of it and you see all your friends. I think oftentimes, the participants don’t actually recall what charities are being benefited that particular year, but they know they’re doing something for charity and they are doing something for themselves.”

Road marshals and water stop teams are among the “army of volunteers” that keep everything running smoothly although not every event goes off without a hitch. In 2016 the forecast was grim but the group decided to go ahead.

“It was a monsoon,” said Williams. “But it was probably one of our best years in terms of camaraderie – there were people hugging each other at the finish, St John’s Ambulance Brigade was there with thermal blankets. The people who took part were so proud of themselves and it was really one of our best decisions to carry on.”

Improvements to the Railway Trail fall on a list of ESG efforts; the once paper event guide is digital this year.

There are teams that take part every single year. Top fundraisers receive “really cool prizes” but it’s not what drives groups like First Atlantic Commerce who have dressed as Marvel comic characters and worn tutus while riding the length of the island. Another person committed to the cause: the Warwick Academy mascot who walks the entire way in a bear costume.

“They have so much fun doing it,” Williams said. 

Sporting associations have participated, tourists have joined in, milestone birthdays are celebrated and it’s used as training for Bermuda’s Special Olympics team. The Fun Walk & Cycle, from Beacon Hill to Somerset opened the opportunity to students and families with small children.

“There’s a distance for everybody,” Williams said.

Joan Dismont participated in the first End-to-End event in 1988. She continued to participate for more than 25 years, raising thousands of dollars for charity.

Wendell Dill, Patrina O’Connor and Ed Christopher are regular supporters; the Joan Dismont Fundraiser Award will honour the “queen of the End-to-End”, a top fundraiser who died last year.

The toughest part, always, is deciding which charities should benefit, Mello said.

“The need in Bermuda is tremendous. The ills of our society are many and of course, our funds can’t solve anything we can just help support some solutions. So that’s what we look for: how can we leverage our funds to make Bermuda the place we all want to live in.”

To participate in this year’s event, register or donate at www.bermudaendtoend.com.