A terminally sick child from P.E.I. will soon be on a plane to Disney World thanks to a team of sailors who begin a gruelling five-day marathon fundraiser today.
Twenty-three crew members from HMCS Charlottetown will run from one tip of P.E.I. to the other to raise money for the Children’s Wish Foundation.
This is the seventh year the navy ship’s crew has held the Run 4 Wishes campaign, which has seen its fundraising efforts soar every year.
The 23 crew members who volunteered for this year’s run have been training for months for their marathon that will see them cover between 50 and 100 kilometres a day for the next five days.
But every member of the team seems happy and even eager to run the distances. That’s because they’re committed to making the wishes of terminally ill children on P.E.I. come true.
“We didn’t pick any individuals out with marathon experience or anything like that, these people all want to do this,” said team leader PO1 John Guillion.
“When you look at the end product and understand the cause the money we’re raising is going towards, how could you not want to get involved in something like that.”
Last year, the team raised over $67,000 from generous Islanders — the single largest amount ever raised by the Run 4 Wishes.
This year, the crew is not setting a goal amount, due to the recession. Nonetheless, they remain confident Islanders will be as generous this year as they have been in the past.
“All we are is a conduit — we give Islanders the opportunity to show how generous they are,” HMCS Charlottetown’s new Commanding Officer Craig Skjerpen said during a press conference Monday in Charlottetown. “They’re always ready to support this great cause.”
Beth Gauthier of the Children’s Wish Foundation praised the crew taking part in this year’s run. She told them how much their efforts mean to sick kids on P.E.I.
“Once they’re diagnosed, they lose control. They’re being told how to have treatment, they’re being told when they can go to school, when they’re in quarantine — a wish is a time for them to be in control, they are in control of what their wish will be and it is a memory making time for them as well as their families,” Gauthier said.
Some children wish to go to Disney World, some want to meet their favourite celebrity and some wishes are very simple. Gauthier told the sailors about one Island boy who recently wished to have his grandparents move home from western Canada to be with him. Children’s Wish Foundation was able to grant this boy’s wish, thanks in part to the fundraising efforts of the HMCS Charlottetown crew.
“Never take lightly what you are doing here,” she told them Monday.
Jennifer Coles, a boatswain from Stanley Bridge, P.E.I. currently serving aboard the Charlottetown, will accompany the running crew this week. With loudspeaker in hand, Coles hopes to keep the runners motivated and get Islanders out to greet them and donate to the cause as they run by.
“This is all for the children — everybody has been fundraising, the legions have been doing Bingos and different communities have been raising money for the past few months so it’s the Islanders that have made this event so special,” she said, smiling.
“We’re just here to run and serve cake.”
The run starts today at North Cape and ends Saturday, Aug. 8 in Charlottetown. Over the five days, the runners will visit more than 25 communities from the eastern tip to the western tip of the Island.
- Tuesday – Run begins at North Cape Lighthouse ending in Summerside. Barbecues will be held at all Sobey’s locations and team will bag groceries at Summerside Sobey’s.
- Wednesday – Run continues starting in East Point ending in Montague. Team bags groceries at Montague Sobey’s.
- Thursday – Run continues, starting in Wood Islands ending in West Royalty. Team bags groceries at West Royalty Sobey’s.
- Friday – Run continues starting in Georgetown, ending in Stratford. Team arrives at Stratford Sobey’s to cut cake for Red Friday rally. Team bags groceries.
- Saturday – Last day of run, starting in Summerside, through Cavendish and ending at finish line at cenotaph in Charlottetown. Team bags groceries at Allen St. Sobey’s.