Olympic gold medallist, beer auctioneer and television host Jon Montgomery is adding adventure traveller to his many titles. He wants you to join him and his wife on an upcoming trek.
The 2010 men's Olympic skeleton champion and host of television's "The Amazing Race Canada" is leading a 14-day, 500-kilometre bike trip in November through Central America.
He and wife Darla, also a former skeleton racer, are sliding head first into the world of eco-travel with WaterAid Canada. The organization works to provide clean water and sanitation to places in the world without access to either.
The bike trip is the first of five "Bucket List Adventures" the Montgomerys will undertake for WaterAid over the next few years with the goal of raising $1 million for clean-water projects.
"We're stepping out of some comfort zones," Montgomery told The Canadian Press. "We're not even cyclists yet.
"I've never been to Central America to do any type of adventure activities. This is going to be cycling through the jungle and rainforest and taking a float plane ride into the northern autonomous regions. This is going to be as out-of-the-box adventure as I've really ever gotten before."
The trip itinerary, which can be seen on the website wateraidcanada.com, starts in Costa Rica and ends in remote northern Nicaragua to see WaterAid projects there.
There's room for 16 people on the trip and there are spots still available, said Montgomery.
The travel package costs $3,750 plus international flights, insurance and vaccinations. There's also a minimum $5,000 fundraising requirement.
"Certainly that's achievable with social media today; there's all kinds of opportunities to reach out and raise money," Montgomery said. "If you don't join us on this trip, you can certainly do initiatives in your community.
"You can donate and you can definitely raise awareness through social media and just spreading the good word."
The Montgomerys will host a series of similar trips for WaterAid Canada, including a hiking trek in Nepal in 2016, a Zambezi river paddle in 2017, another Kilimanjaro trip in 2018 and a Cambodia bike trip in 2019.
WaterAid Canada raised a combined $400,000 via two similar trips to Mount Kilimanjaro recently. One was hosted by television personality Ben Mulroney.
WaterAid's projects are designed to be low-tech and sustainable. Installing metal roofs on schools with rainwater catch and containment systems to provide clean washing water is one example.
Letting gravity do the work by running pipe from a lake or river at higher altitude provides access to clean water a community might not otherwise have.
"Our people on the ground tell us what's culturally suited to that community," WaterAid senior communications manager Graham Milner said.
"In many parts of the world, it's not about there not being clean water around. It's being able to access it. We don't rely on filters or things that tend to break down and need to be replaced. We have simple technologies that have shown over time they're sustainable," he said.
"There's over 650 million people that don't have access to clean water and 2.3 billion people that don't have access to a basic toilet. This is the most preventable, yet deadly, issue that the world is facing right now."
Montgomery won Olympic gold in skeleton at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. The 36-year-old from Russell, Man., gained folk-hero status in Canada by auctioning off a pitcher of beer in downtown Whistler after his race.
He and Darla Deschamps married in 2011. She was climbing the ranks in women's skeleton when she suffered a career-ending concussion.
Montgomery says their involvement with WaterAid Canada evolved out of his work with Ducks Unlimited, which endeavours to preserve wetlands and waterfowl habitat, as well as Right To Play, which promotes play to educate and empower children.
He's certainly accustomed to travel as host of "The Amazing Race," but the couple, who live in Victoria, will journey well off the beaten path over the next few years.
"We're stepping into it," Montgomery said. "It's an opportunity to do some good while, you know, continuing to try and push the boundaries of where we feel comfortable.
"It's kind of the vein in life in which I'd like to continue to pursue. This hopefully is going to be the beginning of a new chapter for Darla and I, doing adventurous type stuff."
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press