Every year, the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation runs Challenge for Life, a fundraising/awareness event whereby walkers commit to raising $1,000 for CancerCare Manitoba while also taking an active role in maintaining their physical health, thus reducing their risk of getting cancer by 50%.
This year, Challenge for Life culminates on June 8 with a 20-kilometre walk, beginning and ending at Assiniboine Park.
This is Joe Leuzzi’s fourth year participating in Challenge for Life. His wife decided to take the Challenge after Leuzzi’s father was diagnosed with leukemia. The next year, Leuzzi joined her, along with his team, Sons of Italy.
In its fourth Challenge, Sons of Italy — a fraternal organization devoted to Italian heritage, community service and charity — has raised over $100,000 for CancerCare MB.
"After my dad was diagnosed, I would go to CancerCare and experience the treatment, the different people that work there and the facility itself and realize how lucky he was to have something of that quality right here in Manitoba," says Leuzzi, 42.
"It really motivates you to try and do what you can to ensure that same quality is given to everybody that needs it."
To fundraise for this year’s Challenge, Sons of Italy will be putting on an Italian-style Bud and Spud (that means a pig roast, pasta and Peroni Beer) at X-Cues’ Billiards & Cafe on May 10.
As far as the actual walk, Leuzzi says it’s always a challenge, but definitely worth it.
"At about the 13-kilometre mark I start to wonder why I got myself into this, but then I start thinking about the pain and suffering that people going through cancer are going through and say ‘OK, we have to do those last few K’," Leuzzi says.
Leuzzi says halfway through the walk, one of his Sons of Italy brothers brings the entire team espresso. Caffeine is great, but Leuzzi says the real rejuvenation happens near the end of the Challenge.
"When you see the road that leads you into the park, you get a whole other burst of energy," Leuzzi says.
"It’s a great sense of accomplishment, an amazing feeling. I call it the million dollar day."
For more information on Challenge for Life call 204-927-LIFE (5433) and visit www.challengeforlife.ca