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Last chance to run with Porter

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This year’s Run With Porter will be the last.

The fifth-annual event, which was started by Kildonan-East Collegiate teachers Ryan and Tannis Francis to honour the memory of their son, Porter, will mark the final time the fundraiser will be held.

This year’s event will be held at Birds Hill Park on June 2 and will support the Porter Francis Seedling Foundation Scholarship, which is donated annually to a Kildonan-East student – "a hopeful student, someone we would have liked Porter to be like", said Tannis.

The run has already raised over $50,000 for various causes around the city in its history.

Tannis, a drama teacher, explained that drawing the event to a conclusion marks the family’s transition into a different stage of grief. Porter succumbed to a rare immunodeficiency disease at just five months of age in 2008.

"Initially, when Porter passed, as a mom, I was desperate for him to be remembered," said Tannis. "When my brother approached me with this idea, I really latched onto it knowing that people would learn about Porter, and people have.

"I don’t think it’s something you ever heal from, but it doesn’t need to be so public for me anymore."

There are four options for participants at this year’s race, as there are five-km and 10-km runs, a nature walk, and a children’s dash. Early-bird registration for the adult events is $35, while the children’s event is $20, and the costs increase by $5 after April 22, which is Earth Day.

Tannis said the inaugural event didn’t offer a children’s run, but she was inspired to build one in for the sophomore offering in 2010. Now, two are offered.

"We were celebrating family with this event, so of course, people were going to bring their children," she said. "The first year, it poured, and people still brought their kids. That blew my mind. Even pouring, grey days were celebrated days.

"If I was someone who had signed up for an event and it was pouring and I was going to bring my two kids, we probably would have stayed home, but people didn’t."

Tannis’ father, Rodney Lehmann, handcrafts medals for the children’s dash by carving wood and stamping the Run With Porter logo onto it, while her mother, Helen, weaves the ribbon into them to finish them off.

Tannis said she plans to remain involved in charitable work after the final runner has crossed the finish line, and hopes daughters Hudson, 7, and Prairie, 3, will be inspired to do the same.

"This event has certainly taught me the importance of charity, and I hope to continue to teach that to my girls," she said. "It might not be about us anymore, but it needs to be about somebody else."

For more information and to register, visit www.runwithporter.com.

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