Update on the Childrens' Run Across Canada to benefit Sick Kids

The Sikh youth group started their journey Canada Day in St. John’s, Nfld....

“I’m not a pro runner, but this is a worthwhile cause and it is something I can look back on and say I was a part of,” Markham resident Sukhpreet Bajwa, 14, said, breaking his long stride last week for a quick chat on Yonge Street, north of 16th Avenue, in Richmond Hill.

Sporting yellow shirts bright as the sun beating down upon his back, Sukhpreet and his running mates have pounded sidewalk pavements, dusty country roads and round pebbles of rocky shoreline across Canada.

They are children running for children.

They are members of the Guru Gobind Singh Children’s Foundation, but most importantly they are part of a group of young people participating in the relay run-a-thon known as the Children’s Run Across Canada.

The Sikh youth group started their journey Canada Day in St. John’s, Nfld. and have continued as far as central Ontario, raising money for children’s hospitals in each of the 10 provinces they jog through, as well as a hospital in Liberia, Africa.

The group has set a goal of $110,000 to be reached by the time the final leg finishes in Vancouver Aug. 30.

Their long, winding road took them up Yonge Street last Wednesday afternoon.

Led by a pack of no more than five runners, heading north along Canada’s longest street, they were followed by a convoy of vehicles decked out in Canada flags, transporting the next wave of runners and organizers.

Carrying a Khanda sceptre as they travel, the youths who are part of the run’s central team, started their journey in Brockville, taking over from east team participants July 19.

The central squad will continue until they reach Brandon around Aug. 6 and then hand the Khanda over to the run’s western team, who will complete the final third of the 60-day journey.

Running with Sukhpreet were Markham resident Jasdeep Dosanjh, 12, and Scarborough residents Sandy Grewal and Sam Perhar, both 25.

Laughing when talking about their sore legs and lungs, the runners, who were in the first hour of their three-hour shift, smiled with optimism and enthusiasm despite many Ontario miles still ahead of them.

“So far, the support we are getting from people has really been encouraging,” Ms Grewal said.

“And we encourage each other. It can get tough running up a hill, in the heat or in the rain, but we are all in this for the big picture of helping children who really need it.”

The cross-country run was born out of a similar event done by the group 10 years ago, when members of the Guru Gobind Singh Children’s Foundation ran from Toronto to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, raising money for Plan Canada — formerly Foster Parents Plan Canada.

Both Ms Grewal and Mr. Perhar took part in that initial run and, after 10 years of planning to make this cross-country event a reality, they wanted take part again and set a positive example for the group’s younger members.

“We are here to motivate and really try to keep the vibe positive, letting the younger runners know that they are making a difference with what we are doing and I thing they get that,” Mr. Perhar said.

“All the smiles, waves and words of encouragement we get while we are out there really goes a long way and we are all looking forward to taking the journey to a part of the country that most of us have never seen before.”

The group covers roughly 120 kilometres each day, running from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lodging, food and washroom breaks are arranged by a team of organizers travelling with the team and so far things have run smoothly, Richmond Hill resident Renu Duggal said.

“Yes, we are on schedule and everyone is safe,” she said clutching her log book.

“It is an adventure for all of us, but we have the whole province planned out and our goal tonight is Newmarket. I think some of them need to do laundry.”

The runners goal is to collect a minimum of $110,000. This would be distributed $10,000 to each hospital in each of the ten provinces we will be running through and $10,000 for a overseas health project through Plan Canada. Should funds exceed our goal the additional contribution would be used to cover any expenses not covered by the sponsorships collected. Any remaining surplus would then be distributed in the same portions (1/11th for each charity).

Hospitals that they are planning to support are:

  • Newfoundland - Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Nova Scotia - IWK Health Centre Foundation
  • Prince Edward Island - Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation
  • New Brunswick - Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation
  • Quebec - The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Ontario - Sick Kids Foundation
  • Manitoba - Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan - Children’s Health & Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan
  • Alberta - Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • British Columbia - Surrey Memorial Hospital
  • Overseas project for a health centre in Liberia, Africa is being supported through - Plan Canada - The Liberia Health Project

For daily updates on the runners, or to make a donation please visit the GGSCF Childrens' Run Website

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