The CancerCare Manitoba Foundation’s Challenge for Life is a fundraising/awareness initiative whereby participants commit to raising a $1000 for the organization, while also pledging to practice a healthier lifestyle.
Challenge for Life culminates with a 20-km walk on June 8, beginning and ending at Assiniboine Park.
Diana Onesky took part in her first Challenge last year, raising almost $3,000 for CancerCare Manitoba. For her, it’s personal.
"I’ve been focusing on health and fitness and taking care of myself ever since my dad passed away of lung cancer in 2006," says Onesky, 44
"I also have two close family members that are going through cancer right now, but I always do it in memory of my dad because that was the first time I actually saw and experienced cancer up close and personal. It definitely makes you take a different look at how you live your life and the unhealthy choices one makes, like smoking, unhealthy eating and not exercising."
Onesky — who quit smoking immediately after her dad’s death — says she trained for the Challenge by trying to walk at least five kilometres every day. On the big day, she says she was absolutely exhausted by about the 15 -km mark, but she persevered and was extremely glad she did.
"I burst into tears crossing the finish line," Onesky says. "I was so emotional and I wasn’t even expecting to be. I didn’t expect to feel that way, but I did, like ‘Wow, what’s going on? I’m crying.’ People cheer you as you’re going past. It’s an incredible experience."
Onesky says the $1,000 goal sounds a bit lofty at first, but if you think about it in little compartments — money from a friend here, money from a family member there — it adds up quickly.
Also, it pays off just to be active. Statistics say a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of getting cancer by 50%.
"I hope I will be proof of that and beat my family history of getting cancer and live a long healthy life," Onesky says.
"I want to be able to put my runners on and walk when I’m 70."
For more information on Challenge for Life call 204-927-LIFE (5433) and visit www.challengeforlife.ca.