On Sunday, May 25, a record 10,000 participants came together in Toronto for the 30th annual World Partnership Walk, raising around $1.7 million.
Toronto was one of ten cities across Canada to host the walk. Vancouver and Victoria also held events on May 25, while walks in Montreal, Ottawa, and Regina occurred the following Sunday on June 1. Upcoming Partnership Walks will be held in Calgary, Edmonton, London and Kitchener-Waterloo.
The primary 5K event began at Metro Hall in Toronto. Activities for children and seniors, team games and global education programs were also offered.
The World Partnership Walk is an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation. The first walk was held in 1985 by a small group of women in Vancouver. They had immigrated from Africa and Asia and were looking for a way to support those they left behind. The first Partnership Walk included just over 1,000 walkers and raised $55,000.
Last year, nearly 40,000 walkers from 10 cities across the country raised more than $7 million for the cause. Toronto alone raised roughly $2 million and had 9,000 participants.
Today, the walk is considered the most successful event of its kind in Canada. In the last 30 years, participants and supporters have raised more than $82 million for global development programs. All of the money raised goes directly to development programs sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation.
In 1995, the Partnership Walk expanded to the United States, and is now held in ten U.S. cities: Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orlando, San Antonio and San Francisco. Many of these cities will be hosting events in September and October of this year. In 2007, the Partnership Golf event was launched, and is now held in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle.
The Aga Khan Development Network is a private, non-denominational international organization. It supports programs that aim to improve the quality of life in the developing world, with a focus on Asia and Africa. The Aga Khan Development Network employs roughly 80,000 people to work in 30 developing countries around the world. In 2010, their budget for development activities was $625 million.
The Aga Khan Development Network is a system of agencies working together to achieve international development. Initiatives such as Health Services, Education Services, The Fund for Economic Development, and The Trust for Culture pursue their own development goals while supporting the primary framework of the The Aga Khan Development Network.
Funding for these development programs is obtained through national governments, institutions and private partners. Global partners include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citigroup Foundation, European Commission, MasterCard Foundation, OXFAM, People in Need, Scotiabank, Smithsonian Institution, UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO. Funding also comes from donations and fundraising events such as the Partnership Walks and the Partnership Golf Tournaments held in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The founder and chairman of the The Aga Khan Development Network is the Aga Khan, who became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on July 11, 1957. Despite his religious affiliations, the Aga Khan is committed to international development for all global citizens, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. He has maintained a strong commitment to the The Aga Khan Development Network for more than 50 years.
– Kristen Bezner