“When you’re running for something other than yourself the running means more.”
An important part of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. We encourage all runners to enrich their race day experience by supporting charities that do so much for communities. We’re shining a spotlighting on individuals and families who have benefitted from some of the charities that are part of the event. “If you’re not running for something, you’re just chasing the wind,” says Wesley Korir. Let’s chase more than PBs. Let’s chase a better world.
“My son continued needing me in a way that I had to be super focussed and so I began running and it helped me be my best me, to help him.”
You come to a place in your life where you know in order to care about someone else’s needs intensely, you have to take care of yourself. The only way to calm my youngest boy down (he has ADHD) was put him in the jogging stroller. I was diagnosed legally blind when I was three. Before that, I was told to stop misbehaving, instead of being led by someone across the playground to the slide. I hooked up with Achilles Canada, a non-profit that encourages people with disabilities to run, and they taught me how to be brave enough to accelerate knowing that there’s the potential of hitting a car.
My son continued needing me in a way that I had to be super focussed and so I began running and it helped me be my best me, to help him.
The culture doesn’t even know it discriminates against people with disabilities and so I think my visibility helps in order to have conversations. “People with disabilities can’t do that,” is a lot of people’s viewpoints and it’s one of the reasons I run: what does vision-impaired look like? A vision-impaired mother just ran the Bruce Trail! It’s important to create awareness. It’s one thing to have values and speak about them, but if you’re not willing to get on the front linesand work, you should stop talking: you can’t stand up for change sitting down.
People telling me stories of their uncle who lost their vision and how they struggle losing their independence. It doesn’t have to be that way! Other disabled people who aren’t athletes are saying things like, ‘If you’re running in the mountains, I don’t have to be afraid to go to the grocery store.’ See, my every day isn’t this big adventure. Can I make it to the bus stop without getting run over? Can I pick my son up from high school?
We don’t know how as a society to help people fit in like that and we need to talk about that more.
There’s a place for people with disabilities. And it’s definitely not on the sidelines where we’re put.
“When your liver fails, every other organ follows suit. If I encouraged one other person to go out and get tested, my job is complete.”
Lance Gibson for the Canadian Liver Foundation
When the Canadian Liver Foundation reached out to me, I was in a very vulnerable place but my disease spoke well to the need to dispel the stigma surrounding liver disease and Hepatitis C. I felt an obligation to speak out; to remove the negative stigmatization and help others understand the gravity and weight of my illness. Not only did I become more acceptant of myself, but I released all of the blame and came to understand that my illness was a fluke – to place blame on myself was not only unproductive, it was a disservice to myself. When your liver fails, every other organ follows suit. If I encouraged one other person to go out and get tested, my job is complete.
I ran the Rock and Roll Marathon in five hours flat on a dare while stationed at the USAF Base Bagram Afghanistan in 2007… exactly one-year before I was diagnosed with liver disease. My next, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, came directly after my liver transplant. This event was bolstered with unprecedented meaning: I ran the marathon with my Liver Specialist right by my side – from towing the start line to crossing the final time check. I saw this race as a benchmark of my health. Everything I had been holding in for the last five years came pouring out at that finish line. I did it.
Running has become an outlet for me. It’s connected with everything from my diagnosis and mental wellbeing. I saw it as an obstacle and personal challenge. Each goal I set was a hurdle and personal achievement I needed to overcome. With each victory came the aspiration to do more. Today, I run to inspire others to never quit and to always keep fighting.
“When I got my cancer diagnosis, I knew exactly who to call. It was time to link about with TNT again and do another race. Fundraising helped get me through treatments—it gave me something good to focus on.”
Lori Christopher for TNT
I started running with TNT in 2013 after my nephew died from leukemia. I had to do something because there was nothing to do. Fundraising gave my running a purpose other than just running for myself. In 2014, I got diagnosed with leukemia. When I got my cancer diagnosis, I knew exactly who to call. It was time to link about with TNT again and do another race. Fundraising helped get me through treatments—it gave me something good to focus on.
With leukemia, you don’t ever get a cure. You hope for long-time remission. And in the meantime, I’m scoping out my next race.
I do better when I train. I feel better mentally. I feel better physically. I ran a whole pile of races through chemo because that’s just me. My doctor said I’m probably the healthiest chemo patient he knows, and that he knows plenty of people not in chemo who aren’t as healthy as you. Running is my outlet for everything. It’s how I sort everything out. Put your running shoes on and work out all life’s stresses, just run.
In 2014, my died from complications of Alzheimers. I work full-time and have three kids and run a house—running saved my sanity. I could not survive my mother’s diagnosis and her being sick without it. My best races came after my life’s most traumatic things. There’s not many finish lines I cross where I’m not crying.
I think when you’re running for something other than yourself the running means more. It’s morphed into something special for me. I’m running for all those people who can’t run. And to the runners reading this, reading my story—I know fundraising is daunting. But this is our time. Let’s band together—as runners—and help those who need it, because we can.
October 24th, 2016