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This article was published 10/6/2017 (951 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Saturday morning sky for CancerCare Manitoba’s 10th annual Challenge for Life was ominous looking, with thunderclouds and steady rain. But somewhere around the midpoint of the 20-kilometre walk, the clouds rolled back, the sunshine beat down, and a refreshing breeze blew in to help the walkers dance over the finish line.
"It was absolutely breathtaking," said Annitta Stenning, CEO of the CancerCare Foundation. This year marks a special anniversary not just for the walk, but for Stenning herself. She’s been at the helm of the Foundation for a decade now, walking each kilometre every year since the start.
Stenning knows intimately the fundraiser’s value. More than three decades ago, her father passed away from cancer but she said recent treatment developments more than likely would have saved him. The first year Stenning walked, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and, thankfully, survived. This year, her sister was diagnosed and only just finished her treatment.
"A very, very proud day," Stenning says.
The Foundation raised more than $1.09 million for CancerCare Manitoba, bringing the Foundation’s total contribution to cancer research in Manitoba to more than $111 million.
Fittingly, the Foundation has also broken new ground in 2017: 870 walkers pounded the pavement out from and back to Assiniboine Park with the support of nearly 14,000 donors; a new record.
"We’re just so grateful and so proud," Stenning said, "it’s been a humbling day."
It’s also been a life-affirming one.
Adrian Wortley came as part of the eight-person walking team, "Canada 150." They came last year and this year decided they wanted to set some new, sesquicentennial-themed goals. They walked in red shirts and set a target of 150 donations that they easily surpassed, hitting 185 and more than $11,000.
But Wortley didn’t just come for his team.
"I’m also here because I can be," he said. A few weeks ago, he finished his 12th round of chemotherapy. This walk is the beginning of a few months rest between treatment and finding out whether it’s working.
The Challenge for Life, Wortley said, "is a phenomenal way to feel alive, if that’s not too cheesy, and to have an opportunity to do something physical together and feel whole again, which I haven’t felt in awhile."
His fellow walker Roxanne Carriere said it’s also a way to give back. For the team, what better way to give back to Canada than by helping fundraise for cancer research that could help save lives?
"This is our way of doing something for the community," she said," but (Wortley) is the true reason we’re doing this, he is a cancer survivor, fighter, working at it."
The team exemplifies what the walk is all about, Stenning said.
"You hear people say, ‘I’m walking for my sister,’ ‘I’m walking for my dad,’ ‘I’m walking for my sister in treatment,’ or ‘my mother lost her battle last year,’" she said.
"People are here for so many reasons and the fact is we’re all in it together."