The chairwoman of the Bermuda End-to-End is hanging up her boots after more than two decades on the board.
Anne Mello, a board member since 1993 and chairwoman since 2001, said her personal highlight was knowing the difference the event makes for local charities.
“It feels awesome,” she said. “It’s the best part of the whole endeavour, to know that we are an entity who are able to help support these groups and make Bermuda better in some way.
“And we do it together — not just us on the board, but the volunteers and the sponsors. The whole group of us work together to do that, and it’s wonderful.”
She recalled the 2016 event, when volunteers were greeted with a deluge of rain but continued undaunted.
Ms Mello said: “It rained and it bucketed, but the volunteers came out and stood in the rain because they were so committed. I cannot think of a group more invested in the community.”
Ms Mello said she first got involved with the End-to-End as part of a fitness challenge when she wrote for The Bermuda Sun. She said: “I heard a lot of people talking about doing it and I thought it was an amazing test to walk across the island.
“It seemed like no one was walking much back then.
Ms Mello added: “Maybe to the parking lot and back, so it seemed like an amazing experience and something I would never, ever do.”
She tackled the challenge and quickly became entrenched in the annual event, which grew in popularity over time.
“The transition from being a grass roots, one-day fun event to being a major fundraiser and philanthropic endeavour, that transition was big,” she said.
“We were giving out small amounts in the early years and now the funds have just gotten larger.”
The Bermuda End-to-End has raised almost $6 million for local charities. Ms Mello said she would undoubtable still be involved in some form or another.
“I will never, never give it up,” she said. “I will always be a part of End-to-End. It has become a part of my soul.
“I will still be involved with a great sense of pride, but it will be nice to be involved without some of the worries of the day.”
Ms Mello said her next challenge will be even larger — the issue of climate change.
She said: “I’m a grandmother now. I have grandchildren, and their future is of the upmost importance to me.
“I want to leave my grandchildren a great legacy, but it’s meaningless if I leave them a shattered world.”
A spokesman for Bermuda End-to-End said the search to find her successor has begun as the board prepares for its 33rd event next May.
The event’s three founders, Paul Rowlerson, Jon Borrill and Clive Cotton, paid tribute to Ms Mello’s efforts yesterday.
Mr Rowlerson said: “Anne added something essential and quite unique, she brought heart and true compassion to our work.
Not only did she make it fun for the walkers, she made if fun for the organising team. “
Mr Borrill said: “I hope Anne will feel the same way down the road that we all feel.
“This was a worthwhile effort that has touched countless lives for the better. This effort and achievement will stay with her, as it has with us, for the rest of our lives.”
Mr Cotton said: “It takes a very special person to recruit, organise, and motivate those people while, perhaps most importantly, keeping the sense of fun that makes the End-to-End the great event that it is.”
Mandy Shailer, an End-to-End board member, said that while the End-to-End did not start with Ms Mello, the event as it runs today is her creation.
She said: “There are few charity events that truly stand the test of time the way the End-to-End has, and that does not happen without proficient leadership, dedication, enthusiasm and heart.”