Running, and dancing, for our lives

From left, Thomas Whitton and right, Matt Lakusta are ready to run, and off-load all this raffle swag. The two are part of a team raising money for this year’s annual “Run for our Lives” run/walk in Hay River.
– Angele Cano/NNSL photo

Last year, a group of Hay Riverites raised $5,500 for cancer and health-related initiatives in the NWT and, this year, they are hoping to blow that number out of the water. The annual Run for Our Lives is being held again in Hay River. It’s the eighth year that the NWT has taken on the run, a separate entity from the national Run for the Cure, which is an initiative of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and CIBC.The difference is money stays in the territory.

The run will be held on Sept. 30, but fundraising has already begun. Each member of the CIBC branch in Hay River will participate and are currently accepting pledges and selling baked goods.

This year’s event organizer, Tom Whitton, has upped the prospects of raising money by organizing a dance for Sept. 8. He’s also finding other creative ways to get people involved and opening their wallets.

Whitton, who is organizing the event for the first time, will be changing his hair colour to some funky pink and black hues, and shaving a cancer awareness ribbon symbol into the side of his head before the annual run/walk. 

Last year, he raised $1,100 on his own for the run. The $5,500 raised by the CIBC’s Hay River branch helped purchase a mammography machine for Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

It’s a great cause and I was able to raise a lot of money last year,” said Whitton. “I think I can raise even more this year. Our raffle is quite a bit bigger and the dance is a major thing. That’s making a huge difference. We are going to be able to raise a lot more money with the community’s help, of course.”

Rebecca Alty is the executive director for Stanton Territorial Health Authority and a committee member for Run for Our Lives in the NWT. She liaises with communities raising money through their own events.

Alty said, before the NWT created its own run, it participated in the national Run for the Cure. All the funds raised were sent to the organization down south and put towards cancer research.

The territorial committee for the run applied for funding for cancer-related projects and were denied twice. They then decided to make a change.

We thought, ‘We are raising all this money and it’s not coming back to us,’” said Alty. “We decided that we wanted to make the decisions about where that money would go. A lot of the struggle with bigger runs is that all the money goes to research, but there is no research being done in the NWT.”

The money raised from this year’s events across the territory will be put towards a breast cancer action group that provides awareness and education in several communities. Resources are also being used to fund 50 per cent of a dedicated cancer patient navigator nurse, a person who helps guide patients and their families through the medical system.

This year, money will also go to renovating the chemotherapy and intravenous treatment site at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

This year’s fundraising goal for the territory is $150,000.

Tickets for the Hay River dance for our lives are being pre-sold at the CIBC branch and people are encouraged to participate in the run.

It’s worth a little jog to save someone’s life,” said Whitton.

— by Myles Dolphin