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Jump in frozen Lake Louise generates a charitable gift for Banff Park environment

PALM SPRINGS, CA, Oct. 26, 2014  – When a supplier of Ensemble Travel® Group made an impromptu dare to his golf mates, including Ensemble’s Co-President Lindsay Pearlman, to jump into the “still frozen” glacial waters of Lake Louise, Alberta during their retreat in June, little did they know the ripple effect this splash would generate. Over the next two days, the bets wagered quickly and 31 Ensemble members and suppliers jumped at the challenge to also “dip in” to the glacial waters. This mounted into the final donation and triggered the launch of a new environmental fund held by The Banff Community Foundation.

Ensemble’s $6,500 donation raised through a spontaneous splash and polar dip swim at its annual Executive Retreat, leveraged the existing $19,000 Legacy of the Friends of Banff National Park into the minimum required. “Ensemble” – the name says it all! Together, the groups have raised $25,000 and the new Environmental Education and Stewardship Fund will award grants that offer educational opportunities and inspire environmental stewardship in a variety of ways in Banff National Park.

Travel Alberta’s Manager of Travel Trade Cameron Wood led the charge during Ensemble’s “polar bear dip” and was one of the first to courageously jump into iconic Lake Louise that day and then again two days later!  By coordinating efforts, the “ensemble” continued to grow. Thanks to Travel Alberta, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, the local community foundation, and Ensemble, Banff National Park now has a solid legacy fund for the future of environmental education and stewardship in Banff.

“We wanted to give back to the magical place that has inspired so many,” said Wood, who was leading the group of travel professionals. “We’re proud to see the funds raised go towards stewardship of this beautiful destination.”

David Harris, president/owner of Orion Travelinx and chairperson of Ensemble’s board of directors, was another one of the 31 brave folks to take the plunge into Lake Louise. “After seeing four of my colleagues jump into the ‘still frozen’ Lake Louise, I thought they were crazy! It didn’t take long for the challenge to grow legs and gain momentum. While some were hesitant at first to jump, adrenaline kicked in, and although the rest of me was chilled, my heart was truly warmed that this spontaneous event has raised $6,500 for environmental stewardship,” Harris said.

The Banff Community Foundation’s Executive Director, Lorraine Widmer-Carson, is delighted with this spontaneous example of corporate social responsibility and philanthropic giving. “This is so cool! Ensemble – says it all. Together! Groups and communities can accomplish so much more when we decide to work together, rather than act alone. Thanks to Ensemble Travel Group, Travel Alberta, Friends of Banff National Park – such kindness and collaboration. It’s a great legacy of a special visit and a great example for others who wish to give back to this special place.”

About The Banff Community Foundation

Established by and for the people of Banff and surrounding area in 2002, The Banff Community Foundation facilitates collaborative philanthropy. We leverage our love for community, knowledge of this place and make meaningful connections between donors and local organizations for the long-term benefit of the Bow Valley. The foundation is here to serve future generations in smarter, more caring ways and is a proud member of the Community Foundations of Canada – the national membership organization for the 191+ community foundations across Canada.

About Ensemble Travel® Group

Founded in 1968, Ensemble Travel® Group is a proactive, member-owned international organization of approximately 850 professional travel agencies in the U.S. and Canada. With a membership that represents billions of dollars in travel sales each year, Ensemble Travel Group has achieved a 45+-year record of boosting members' profits and delivering high-volume sales to its preferred suppliers. To learn more about Ensemble Travel Group, call (212) 545-7460 in the U.S., (416) 367-3660 in Canada, or visit www.joinensemble.com.

About Travel Alberta

Travel Alberta is the tourism marketing agency of the Government of Alberta. A team of youthfully spirited adventurers lead in marketing Alberta’s authentic experiences in breathtaking landscapes around the world.

About Alberta

Located in the heart of Western Canada, Alberta is a travel destination known for surprising even the most experienced travelers. The picturesque mountain towns of Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and Jasper are revered by campers, hikers and nature lovers for their awe-inspiring terrain, jaw-dropping vistas and abundant Canadian wildlife. From exploring Calgary and Edmonton, lively cities brimming with music, culture and nightlife, to discovering dinosaur fossils in the mysterious Canadian Badlands, visiting Alberta promises an experience unlike any other.

For media interviews, contact:

Banff Community Foundation: Marian Harvie, 403-762-8549, mharvie@banffcommunityfoundation.org;

Ensemble Travel Group: Cristie Newell, cristie@ensembletravel.ca

Photos available upon request.

The Banff Community Foundation