Reaching Summits for Victims

By Kevin Masterman, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:02 p.m. October 13, 2017

A senior officer put his boots on the ground of three Adirondack mountaintops in three days in early October to raise funds for the Victim Services Toronto therapy dog program.

A man sits on a mountaintop
Superintendent Heinz Kuck takes a moment to take in the view after summiting Whiteface

Superintendent Heinz Kuck climbed Mounts Marcy, Algonquin and Whiteface, totalling over 15,000 feet of elevation, from Oct. 2 to 4 raising $8,000 to ensure Dandy and her handler can continue their work helping people in the immediate aftermath of trauma.

“It’s beyond incredible what Heinz Kuck accomplished to benefit victims of crime and sudden tragedies,” said Bonnie Levine, Victim Services Toronto Executive Director.  “The physical and mental strength required to climb three of the highest peaks in the Adirondack mountains over three days, is symbolic of the difficult challenges, hardship and strength required to rebuild one’s life after a terrible tragedy or violent crime.  I know Heinz came back with giant blisters and was aching from head to toe, but he did it and he did for the greater purpose of helping victims.”

Victim Services Toronto is the only agency in Toronto that provides immediate on-site crisis, trauma, safety and support services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The Trauma Dog Program, funded solely through donations, is used to assist and benefit all victims, with a primary focus on younger victims. Of the 20,000 people Victim Services Toronto assists each year, more than 7,000 are children.  

Kuck has witnessed the effectiveness of the program as he hosts the Trauma Dog Program out of 11 Division, where he is unit commander.

“Heinz has witnessed and received excellent feedback on the effect the trauma dog has had in reducing stress and anxiety for victims and in particular for child victims and witnesses,” said Levine. “In all my years as the executive director I have never met anyone with more passion, energy and enthusiasm than Heinz. He has a heart of gold and is 100%dedicated to supporting the community and making the world a kinder and better place. He is a remarkable person and we are truly grateful to have a friend in Heinz.”

Books beside a metal object on a rock
Kuck stands over the geological survey marker at the peak of Mount Algonquin

Kuck, who has taken on many endeavours to raise money for  Victim Services Toronto from paddling Lake Ontario to dogsledding north to James Bay, said the three climbs were among his most challenging adventures.

“Most routes were steep and unrelenting. Snow had already accumulated in small patches in the Alpine zone of Marcy, and the wind atop Algonquin was incredibly forceful. But thankfully months of planning, including GPS satellite imaging, assembling the right gear, and of course fitness training came into play big time,” Kuck said. “There was of course a deep and profound sense of fulfillment from beginning to end as I constantly stayed inspired by the strength and courage of those affected by crime, sudden death and trauma who have endured their own journey.

Kuck thanked all those who supported his climb including donors and sponsors.

Donations can still be made via the  Crowd Wise website

Breakdown of the three peaks:

  • Mount Marcy

The highest mountain of the 46 Adirondack high peaks is Mount Marcy, towering 5,344 feet above sea level. It is one of the most distinctive features of the Adirondack landscape. Mount Marcy is home to Lake Tear of the Clouds, the highest lake in New York State at 4,292 feet, and the source of the Hudson River. The trek took eight hours for summit ascent and descent.

  • Whiteface Mountain

With an elevation of 4,867 feet, it is the fifth highest peak in New York State, but due to its formation, Whiteface provides the greatest continuous vertical drop in eastern North America at 3,430 feet. The Whiteface climb time took 6 hours for summit ascent and descent.

  • Algonquin Mountain

Algonquin Mountain is the tallest peak along the MacIntyre Mountain Range and the second highest in New York State with an Elevation of 5,114 feet. Algonquin took 6 hours for summit ascent and descent.

A view from the peak of Mount Marcy, which towers over the mountain range
TPS crest watermark