Going the distance to help Winnipeggers in need

Local running enthusiast travels thousands of kilometres, fundraises for charity


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Junel Malapad runs. A lot.

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Junel Malapad runs. A lot.

In a little more than a decade, the 52-year-old enthusiast has travelled thousands of kilometres and raised more than $300,000 in support of charitable causes.

On Saturday, he and roughly 100 of his fellow Winnipeg Run Club members added an additional $300 and a truckload of donations to their tally, this time in support of Main Street Project. An additional $87 was donated from another run club elsewhere in the city.

“It means a lot to me. People have different talents, and I am fortunate to use my strength to bring people together to raise money and awareness for different things,” Malapad said of the fundraising effort.

“We are lucky that after spending time walking and running outside, we are afforded the opportunity to go home… For many marginalized people, the only place they can do that is the Main Street Project. Everybody deserves a safe place of respite.”

Malapad is a co-leader with the Winnipeg Run Club, which met outside Main Street Project’s 75 Martha St. location around 8:25 a.m. The group ran a five kilometre route that took them down Waterfront Drive to The Forks and back.

Their goal was to raise awareness for Main Street Project, which continues to ask for the public’s support in the form of financial donations, warm winter clothing and hygiene products.

“These runners are inspirational,” said Anastasia Ziprick, Main Street Project’s director of development.

“We need the items they are collecting for us, and just seeing a big group of people doing something special is motivating for our staff and community.”

The donations collected Saturday will be immediately distributed among Winnipeg’s homeless population, which numbers around 1,250 and could include thousands more, according to the 2022 Winnipeg Street Census.

The fundraiser took only a few hours to complete, and is an example of what can be accomplished through determination and a willingness to help — something Malapad knows well.

In 2017, 2018 and 2019 he participated in a fundraiser called Nation Run, which saw runners from cities across the country join a virtual running event. Hoping to bring benefits to his community, Malapad raised money and donated the proceeds to Siloam Mission.

The event was sidelined in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that did not stop Malapad. That year, he celebrated his 50th birthday by running 50 kilometres, 50 times — an average of an ultra-marathon every week for the year. He raised money for 12 organizations, one of which was Main Street Project.

In May 2022 he ran across Manitoba, venturing 490 kilometres in seven days.

There were numerous events in between — 50 kilometres here, another 100 there; all in support of charitable causes.

“It sounds like a lot, but I know people who run everyday for years and years… When you’re in this type of community, it is kind of normal,” Malapad said. “I’ve been raising money and awareness for all different types of organizations for maybe 10 years now… it’s very special, it’s very empowering.”

Malapad started running at the age of 38 after a doctor advised him to lower his cholesterol. He retired from his job as head caretaker at École Secondaire Sisler High School last May and now works part time for City Park Runners at 2091 Portage Ave.

His advice for people wanting to get into running: You don’t need a large event or corporate backing to support local organizations. You just need initiative and a good pair of shoes.

“Anybody who wants to raise money and awareness… really just needs to reach out to the organization and tell them what you want to do,” Malapad said. “If it feels really right in your heart, you should just do it.”



Updated on Saturday, January 14, 2023 1:59 PM CST: Updates with final numbers from event

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