Vancouver tech companies rise to the challenge to support local kids

participants in the 2019 Tech Grind

The Vancouver tech community gathered this past Sunday to hack the Grouse Grind, taking part in the 4th annual United Way Tech Grind presented by McMillan LLP.

Teams raced to the top of Grouse Mountain – all 2,830 steps, 2.9 km and 853 meters in elevation – all while raising funds for United Way’s School’s Out programs. These 100% local after-school programs provide life-changing opportunities that connect local children between the ages of 6-12 with caring mentors, coaches and teachers. They also provide healthy foods and recreational activities that foster their skills and self-esteem. In total, over $32,000 was raised in support of local kids.

team from SFU at Tech Grind 2019

Teams of techies

This year 17 teams took part, representing an array of tech-savvy companies from across the Lower Mainland. The roster included Hootsuite, RED Academy, Simon Fraser University and Tech Resources. Last year’s top fundraising team Capilano University was out in full force again, along with the team from IT/IQ Tech Recruiters, who returned as this year’s Time Keeper sponsor.  Fuelled by generous donations to their teams, together, everyone made their way to the top.

Over 140 participants came ready to scale the Grind up Grouse Mountain. United Way’s mascot Seymour the Sea Otter was on hand to energize the hikers, joining in on some pre-Grind stretching and jumping jacks led by Karen Kobel of Kahlena Movement Studio in North Vancouver. From there teams were sent up the hill with encouraging high-fives from Seymour and United Way staff.

A tight race to the top

The day wasn’t without some healthy competition and a little inter-team grandstanding. A few participants made their mark early in the race, breaking away from the pack and finishing in impressive times.

tech grind champions justin and janessa

Janessa Currie from Matchbox Consulting was the fastest woman to the top of the mountain, completing the Grind in a blistering 42:51 minutes. The fastest man Justin Shoemaker from McCarthy Tetrault completed his race in just over 36 minutes. Both Janessa and Justin won a fabulous stay for two plus breakfast, courtesy of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, to celebrate their speed. Well deserved indeed!

people stretch after the grouse grind

On top of the world

After ascending the peak, participants enjoyed a post-Grind endorphin-rush and were treated to a wonderful buffet and gorgeous views atop Grouse Mountain. Many competitors also soothed their sore muscles in a rejuvenating yoga cool-down led by Karen of Kahlena Movement Studio.

Kudos and high-fives at the top were led by United Way’s Kris Gibson and Shamina Senaratne, along with Feras Elkhalil, member of United Way’s fundraising Campaign Cabinet working with the tech sector. Kris, Shamina and Feras thanked participants for their incredible performance both on and off the mountain, as champions of United Way.

McCarthy Tetrault team at Tech Grind

Team McCarthy Tetrault blew away the competition this year, netting the most donations and raising over $8,000 for United Way. They received a deluxe coffee grinder prize package from Waves Coffee House for their outstanding efforts. Many more participants walked away with other great prizing in recognition of their fundraising efforts. Thanks to everyone who reached out to their networks to raise funds for kids in need!

participants with Seymour the Sea Otte

Sponsors key to  the Tech Grind’s success

McMillan LLP stepped up to present this year’s event as well as donate prizing and swag for our gift bags. McMillan has been supporting positive social change through its workplace support of United Way for many years.

Giving back to the community is important to the McMillan team, especially when it comes to supporting local vulnerable youth and kids.

“Kids are the backbone of strong, healthy and caring communities,” says Tom Theodorakis, Vancouver Office Management Partner of McMillan LLP. “A key pillar in developing strong communities is ensuring kids can be all they can be. We know how lucky we and our families are. It’s so important that we support programs that champion local kids and youth. We are proud to support the tech community in its efforts to ensure vulnerable kids have access to healthy and safe activities when they’re not in school.”

team IT IQ at Tech Grind

Another new sponsor to this year’s event was FortisBC who came on as a Gold Sponsor. They too provided some great swag for our participant gift bags and prizes.

And back again to help keep everyone on track was IT/IQ Tech Recruiters who returned as our Time Keeper Sponsor for the 2nd year in a row.

Our greatest thanks to all the United Way Tech Grind 2019 participants and donors, to all participating employers and teams, to event volunteers and our sponsors.

See more photos from the day here.

Once again the amazing Vancouver tech community proved that it’s possible to hack the Grouse Grind. We cannot thank you enough.

We’ll see you next year!


Tech Grind helps local kids succeed. Meet Timothy, whose life was changed through a United Way School’s Out program.

Interested in other ways to keep fit, have fun and give back to your community? Check out plogging – the easy, earth-wise exercise.