On the front foot
Running 24 half-marathons to boost awareness
Rob Tétrault doesn’t believe in standing still.
Tétrault, who is the president and founder of CMV Canada, is currently training for a springtime fundraiser to help raise awareness about cytomegalovirus (CMV), the condition his son was born with in 2008.
According to the organization’s website, CMV is a common virus that can infect anyone. Most people don’t know they have CMV, as it rarely causes problems in healthy people.
“But if you’re pregnant, CMV is a cause for concern because the infection can be transmitted to your baby. Congenital CMV (cCMV) is the most common preventable cause of birth defects,” the website states. One in 200 Canadian infants are infected with CMV during pregnancy.
Between May 12 and 24, Tétrault — who is also a portfolio manager at CG Wealth — is planning to run 24 half-marathons across the province, in a campaign called Run with Rob. Aside from the fundraising and awareness-raising aspects of the event, Run with Rob also represents a personal challenge for Tétrault, who has changed his lifestyle and been working hard on his fitness, having taken up running in the last couple of years.
“I ran cross-country in high school, but then hadn’t ran for 15 years,” Tétrault, who now also competes in iron man competitions, said shortly after a workout with his personal trainer at a downtown Winnipeg gym recently. “I train a lot now because I love it so much. I work out seven days a week, and that includes swimming and biking, too. This is the best that I’ve felt in my life, and it’s been a life-altering change.”
During Run with Rob, Tétrault is inviting prospective participants and sponsors to join him at any point during the 12 days. He’ll be running with friends and family members, and at press time he had about 60 co-runners committed to the cause and ready to lace up their running shoes. The group includes an uncle and cousins, as well as people from his office.
Inspired by Canadian icon Terry Fox, Tétrault aims to run from the Saskatchewan–Manitoba border to the Manitoba–Ontario border in pursuit of ensuring that each baby born in Manitoba is tested for congenital cytomegalovirus.
“I’m hoping this will have a knock-on effect with people, and have a positive impact,” he said, noting the event isn’t about being focused on the stopwatch and recording record-breaking times.
“My message is that anyone can do this — the goal isn’t to break any land speed records. I’m just asking people to join me, whether they won’t to sponsor me, donate to the cause or sign the petition.”
The petition in question, which supports Bill 214, refers to what has been Tétrault’s longtime mission to change screening protocols in the province to help eradicate the effects of CMV and mirror protocols now in place in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Tétrault said Manitoba currently implements a targeted newborn CMV screening program, but said that’s not enough as it only identifies infants with CMV-related hearing loss at birth. As a result, other cases of CMV are left undiagnosed.
He said universal screening is the only way to ensure that all babies with cCMV are diagnosed in a timely manner so that they can receive the care they require.
In pre-pandemic times, Tétrault spearheaded several successful editions of a fundraiser called Le Classique — a family friendly winter event that included an outdoor 3-on-3 ball hockey tournament and other fun activities. In its time, Le Classique was held at different locations in St. Boniface.
Tétrault hopes to raise $200,000 from Run with Rob, but will be happy with whatever the final total is.
Go online at cmvcanada.com or runwithrob.com for more information.
Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7111.