Jonathon Torchia is out of breath.
Not just because he was on the treadmill during a morning workout when a reporter contacted him, but also because he’s still winding down from the rousing success of the first annual Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Half Marathon, which brought more than 1,600 runners to the streets of Charleswood on Oct. 20.
Torchia, the marathon’s founder and race director, said he’s still sifting through hundreds of emails he’s received since the event, which raised $25,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.
"It was crazy to see how seven months go by with an idea and how it comes to life," said the 25-year-old Charleswood resident, who presented a cheque to the foundation last Friday.
"At the end of the day, all the runners came back happy, that’s what’s really important.
"It was chilling," he said.
Torchia planned the event, his first, to support Heart and Stroke after becoming involved with the agency after his grandfather suffered a stroke five years ago.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Manitoba and 40% of Canadians will develop some form of heart disease or stroke during their lifetime, said Jessica Cranmer, community and corporate investment manager for Heart and Stroke.
About 200 third party fundraisers bring in more than $250,000 for the local chapter each year — money that helps fund a range of research, advocacy and health programs, she said.
Cranmer, who spent much of the day setting up and tearing down items at the event, called the race one of the biggest events she’s had the privilege of being involved in.
"I’m forever in awe of people, especially people like paramedics and firefighters, who are very busy and have very important jobs, who make the time to do an event like this for us," she said.
"It’s a great way for us to meet different people in the community, and hear their stories and why they’re connected to the organization."
Torchia, who praised his volunteers, noted there were a few wrinkles during the event. However, ideas are already percolating in his head on how to improve the marathon and attract more participants in the future.
"I’m already really excited to start planning for next year," he said. "Get these awesome ideas onto paper and make the event that much better."
For more, visit www.wfpshalfmarathon.com.