The idea for the Kitchener Kids with Cancer Run/Walk came to me while I was running in my first half marathon in 2013. These races can be very inspirational. There are people cheering at the side of the road encouraging the runners with signs like, “Smile if you don’t have underwear on” and “The pain goes away, but electronic results last forever.” Although these signs put a smile on my face, my personal reasons for completing the race were all the memories of the kids I have been blessed to meet in my role as a pediatric oncologist at Grand River Hospital. If they could endure what we put them through when they are fighting cancer, then surely I could make it to the end. The idea to organize a race to raise money for children with cancer came to me that day, growing with each kilometre, and by the time I crossed the finish line, I had the beginning of a plan.
A few months later, I met with the organizers of the half marathon and convinced them to help put my plan into action. That first year, in 2014, the Kitchener Kids with Cancer Run/Walk took place at the back of the hospital in the doctors’ parking lot. Patients and families attended, we had about 135 participants and we raised $17,000 in support of POGO and the services they provide to our young patients and their families. We thought this was a great success. Little did we know that this race would grow to be a huge event, touching the lives of many in the community.
We have since outgrown the hospital parking lot. The race now takes place at the Waterloo Region Museum, attracting close to 600 participants. In 2018 we raised $68,652.68 for POGO. It is incredible to see how a community can come together to fight for such a great cause. Children’s hockey teams participate, a local church closes for the day to walk, run or volunteer, and our beloved Kitchener Rangers hockey team comes out to support this event. This race has turned into a way to support the kids who are currently fighting cancer and to remember those who have lost their battle. I am thankful to all of the families that I have had the pleasure of caring for and for the wonderful committee members who are the real reason that this race is such a success.
The 2019 Kitchener Kids with Cancer run takes place on Sunday, September 8. Everyone is welcome and we look forward to seeing you all there. Learn more at www.kwrunforpogo.com
Dr. Jodi Rosner was awarded the Friends of POGO Award at the 2018 POGO Symposium in Toronto.