For the third year in a row, a team of Grandview Kids, their families, friends, and Grandview staff, along with members of our community, participated in the Charity Challenge at the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half Marathon and 5k in support of Grandview Children's Foundation.
The athletic competition attracted over 24,000 runners from all over the world.
Grandview Children's Centre, a non-profit organization in Durham Region, Ontario, Canada, provides treatment and rehabilitation services to over 4,500 children and youth with special needs each year, and we are so proud of the achievements made by each one of them.
We are especially pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of Grandview Kids Alexa, Cody, Connor, Hannah, Matt, Mackynzi, Mitchell, Owen, Riley, Robert and Tyler who each set a goal to train for the 5k portion of the Marathon competition. They toughed it out every step and spin of the way, despite cold and rainy weather conditions on the course.
Alexa Booth, 16, spent months preparing for the 5k, and even helped drum up support in the community for the Charity Challenge by participating in a newspaper article and early-morning radio interview with her Mom on CKDO with Terry Johnston and Rob Snoek. "I want to do it all myself, I don't want anybody pushing me [in my wheelchair]," she insisted to Metroland Media reporter Jillian Follert.
Jeremy Booker gave the Smash'n Pumpkins star power as he wheeled his way through the course with the team. Jeremy earned a gold medal for Team Canada in Men's Sledge Hockey during the 2006 Paralympic Games - and he's also a graduate of Grandview.
Grandview Kid Mitchell was an Award Winner in the 5k finishing in 3rd place mere seconds behind his twin brother, Scott, as they both sped past 85 other runners in the Mens age 15 to 19 category. The boys finished an incredible 16th and 15th overall in the 5k, with Official Times of 18:34.0 and 18:29.8 respectively.
Grandview's Smash'n Pumpkins team, as they're known, attracted a lot of attention during the event dressed in bright blue Grandview t-shirts and orange pumpkin hats. Even our Executive Director Lorraine Sunstrum-Mann and Director of Clinical Services Leslie Suite braved the less-than-ideal weather conditions to complete the event with the team.
Speech-Language Pathologist Kirsten White succeded in her goal of completing her first Half Marathon alongside her husband, Brendan, while beating their goal to raise $700 for Grandview Children's Foundation.
Greg Dunn of Whitby stunned the crowds in Toronto by wearing a giant pumpkin costume adorned with Grandview logos for the entire 42.2km of the full Marathon. Greg's Grandview spirit managed to spark the interest of the organizers of the event, Canada Running Series, tweeting a picture to their followers with the hilarious, or perhaps incredulous caption, "The pumpkin has crossed the finish line."
There are many stories of inspiration from the competition, but one team member in particular captured the hearts of many runners on the course as well as the spectators cheering from the sidelines - and his story is gathering attention from around the world.
Supported by his Mom, Vickie, Dad Brent, and baby brother Brennan, Owen Derby, age 7, from Whitby, Ontario (pictured at top right) demonstrated determination that would humble even the most seasoned athlete.
Affected by cerebral palsy and using his walker for mobility, Owen completed every step of the 5k on his own, never giving up despite slowing in the last kilometre due to fatigue, making him one of the very last to complete the 5k. Even so, Owen crossed the finish line with an Official Time of 2:17:29.8.
Owen's story of perseverance was featured on CBC News Toronto (fast forward to 4:20mins) and made the front cover of the GTA section of the Toronto Star with an iconic image reminiscent of Canadian hero Terry Fox.
Smash'n Pumpkins Team Captain and Grandview Physiotherapist Corrie Dixon says, "Owen and his Mom worked for a year to prepare for the 5k," and in that moment of victory when Owen's goal was achieved, it was all about a mother's love and devotion to her son who faces every challenge in his young life with a smile.
Owen's Mom Vickie says he has "the eyes of an angel and the determination of a lion" and we're sure the hundreds of people who took to Twitter to tell the world that Owen was their inspiration on October 14 would agree.
Although the race is over, the Charity Challenge continues online until 5:00pm on October 29. If you would like to support Grandview Children's Foundation with a donation, please click here to help us reach our team's fundraising goal of $35,000. Or visit Help Our Kids to learn about other ways to support Grandview.
Special thanks to Team Captain Corrie Dixon and the staff of Grandview Children's Foundation, as well as all the Grandview staff members, kids and their families who participated in the 2012 event. You are all inspiring possibilities!
See you next year.
Click here to see all the incredible images of Grandview's Smash'n Pumpkins team in the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.