Relay allows local cancer survivor to give back 0
A local childhood cancer survivor helping to organize a 100 km relay said the event allows him to support families on the tough journey of battling cancer.
The Sears Great Canadian Run: Relay to End Cancer aims to raise $500,000 for childhood cancer research and treatment at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Simon Williams was diagnosed with leukemia at 17 and had a bone marrow transplant at 25. Now as a healthy adult, Williams, the event director for the Great Canadian Event Series, said he likes being a part of creating and participating in these kinds of events as an opportunity to give back and to help people who are currently battling cancer.
He also participated in the cross-country Sears National Kids Cancer ride in 2010 with a group of 40 people who raised $2 million.
“The journey is different for everybody and if I can just show them what it looks like when you come out the other side, when you are fit and healthy, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, then that is the inspiration that I want to serve,” said Williams, a Collingwood resident.
The run, on Sept. 22, will be a relay format with teams of up to 20 people running from Toronto to the Village at Blue Mountain from 7:30 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. There are 18 exchange points along the route and runners get driven along the course with their team until it is their turn to run.
At the end of the race there will be a celebration in the village of the achievement with speeches from sponsors and a childhood cancer ambassador, as well as food, drinks and music.
This is the second year this unique run has been organized. After the 2012 run, participants commented that the event was life-changing, said Williams.
“People said it was way easier than they thought it would be and some said it was a lot harder, but it's a journey that is representative of what these kids (with cancer) are going through,” he said. “I think the people that participate have fun and they learn a little bit about kids' cancer.”
This year's run already has more than 400 participants and organizers expect between 600 and 700 by race day, with a goal of raising $500,000.
It is a family affair with runners ages 14-70 already signed up and all ages are welcome. There are many teams that are motivated by a child who has cancer. One such team is Journey for Jacob, which raised $70,000 last year and has already raised $35,000 this year. They are running for four-year-old Jacob Middleton who is fighting liver cancer.
The run is not competitive and runners can complete distances varying from four-to-100 kilometres; there are already five runners who have signed up to do solo runs of the entire 100 km. This year there is also an option for smaller local groups to start a run from Stayner.
Volunteers are needed to be at the exchange points, help to set-up and take-down the start-finish lines, and to be bike marshals along the course.
For more information on how to participate, donate or volunteer go to http://www.thesearsgreatcanadianrun.ca/