By: Anna Lee Boschetto
We all have our reasons for running. Not only have these five runners given back to their community, but they have also seen the impact their fundraising efforts have made.
ERIN CORDEIRO, OTTAWA
The Ottawa Hospital Foundation
YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH RUNNING: I’ve been running since 2016 because I wanted to be more fit and to be able to play soccer with my kids. I started off doing shorter races—5Ks and a lot of run-walks. My mom is a multiple half-marathoner who started running at 50 and was running sub-two-hour half marathons, so she’s definitely my ins- piration. We signed up for the Ottawa half marathon and we trained together remotely through Strava, since she is in Halifax. This was my first half marathon and by far the most training I’d ever done.
GETTING PERSONAL: I treat breast cancer patients, so my work is humbling. I go home every day and thank my lucky stars I can run. I’ve had 30-year-olds at the clinic with their children and it teaches you that the gift of health is precious. I wanted to do something that gives back to those patients. Through running, I can help as a doctor and can help advance research as well, through fundraising.
DECIDING TO FUNDRAISE: I was walking through the halls at the Ottawa Hospital and saw the posters for Run for a Reason and thought this would be the perfect way to marry my passion for work and my patients with my passion for running. Any amount of fundraising is helpful for research. Any money I raised was for cancer research at the Ottawa Hospital, where it contributes to everything from basic science methods for cancer research and prevention to clinical trials to survivorship of patients living with cancer.
SHAMEL ELSAYED, CALGARY
Spinal Cord Injury Association of Alberta
YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH RUNNING: I had a car accident 34 years ago and I have since been paraplegic. About six years ago, I participated in the Calgary Marathon to raise funds for the children’s school. I was very impressed with the fact that 99% of the money goes to the organization. When I joined the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Alberta, I convinced the board to register as a charity with the Calgary Marathon. GETTING PERSONAL: When someone gets a spinal cord injury, their life is turned upside down. The first year is very hard, but once you realize that things can get better, there’s hope. I’m working as an engineer. I have two young boys. I’m married. You have to look at the glass as half full.
DECIDING TO FUNDRAISE: Last year, we raised $50,000 and over the past five years, we’ve increased awareness of spinal cord injury. The organization goes to the hospital, where they start talking to you about what to expect. If you have to switch your job, training or driving—basically, your entire life—there are changes that you obviously have to go through, and they help with that. More importantly, they show you there are people who are making it. If we can help someone get over the shock of being disab- led, that’s enough.
REILY WIGNALL, WATERLOO
YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH RUNNING: I started running on and off about ten years ago. At the end of high school going to college, I wanted to lose weight. I’d stop and go [with running] for a while, but for the past year and a half I’ve built my lifestyle around running. Before, I was doing it alone, but once you get into races and engage with other runners on social media, you have a whole running community with you.
GETTING PERSONAL: In 2012, I did the Pride and Remembrance Run in Toronto and each year it goes to a different charity. That year the funds raised went to Youthline, which assists LGBT youth, and it’s a place I identify with as someone who is bisexual. This was an opportunity to bring these two parts of myself together. I set a PB in that race that I have yet to beat and it was a great feeling. I think that when you go through the trouble of training for a race, you are out there for yourself. But when you fundraise, you connect with something inside you.
DECIDING TO FUNDRAISE: When you’re fundraising, this is your identity and your opportunity to make change happen. Suddenly, you aren’t just running for “charity,” you are running for the charity you choose to support. It’s very motivating to get others involved without them ever having to lace up. You’re carrying each person who donates with you. It almost changes the way people look at running. A marathoner with a cause is powerful.
ARTHUR CHOW, WINNIPEG
Manitoba Association for Community Living
YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH RUNNING: I wasn’t always a “runner,” but I could run 3K. When they started the planning of the Manitoba Marathon in 1978, I had to work the full year to be able to run it in 1979. Now I’ve run in all kinds of extreme weather condi- tions and every Manitoba Marathon since my first race.
GETTING PERSONAL: As a professor, one of my colleagues had children in community houses and over the years, there have been a number of neighbours who have had family members needing the services of the Manitoba Association for Community Living. People can move from larger insti- tutions to a home where they are living with two to four individuals, they can function independently and have a real life.
DECIDING TO FUNDRAISE: I started by sticking up a notice in the coffee room at work and over the years it expanded. For the 25th Manitoba Marathon, I went all out for dona- tions, from my email list to knocking door
to door. I’ve had donations up to $2,000, but one of the most moving ones was a kindergartener who gave me her week’s allowance of 25 cents. If we could get half the people who run the marathon to raise $100 each, we could raise half a million dollars each year.
AMY MONTGOMERY, CALGARY
Canadian Liver Foundation
YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH RUNNING: Running takes you away from life’s pressures—it’s meditation. My dad used to do triathlons and I grew up playing soccer and doing youth triathlon events. When he stopped doing triathlons, he ran, and so I ran with my father. For me, running has been a goal, health-wise—to be able to run after the transplant, I needed to be able to focus on that. If I couldn’t run, I wouldn’t have an outlet. That is my special time, my time when I’m able to run.
GETTING PERSONAL: This year, I ran the Calgary Marathon 10K at my six-month transplant anniversary, and I wanted to be able to do the race and fundraise. Through my journey, I’ve been able to meet people with young children with the same disease and seeing me being healthy, they can see hope for their children. Without the connecting point of the organization, it would be difficult for people to find this hope.
DECIDING TO FUNDRAISE: The fundraising goes to research grants and having the best people to study the disease. They provide access to transplants and the money goes to patient supports—a network of people to be in touch with and speak to about your illness.