This is an article I wrote originally for Bedford Magazine in July of 2009, immediately following the second Bedford 5k to Beat Lung Cancer.
A look of sheer joy sprang to my five-year-old daughter’s face as she exploded from the start line of her first running race. Grace’s smile was so wide it seemed to spread beyond her face and onto the faces of the other runners – about 50 kids of all ages. As she grinned and ran, she was flanked by Hannah and McKenna, two of her best friends, who stayed by her side throughout the half-kilometre course along Dewolf Park’s boardwalk. As the trio crossed the finish line and collected their medals, Grace’s smile seemed to grow wider still, if that’s possible.
That was one of the central joys of this year’s Bedford 5k to Beat Lung Cancer. In my second year as race director, I feel a certain weight lifted. The event has once again raised over $5,000 for lung cancer research initiatives supported by the Canadian Cancer Society. More than 225 runners and walkers turned out on a cool and cloudy morning, and our kids’ race was a big hit. We added a massage booth and an official event photographer. With a rock band pumping out tunes and a wise-cracking MC keeping everyone entertained, the second annual Bedford 5k was more than a run; it was a celebration.
Yet for me the celebration is bittersweet. My father, who inspired me to create this race, was too ill this year to join his family and watch his granddaughter run. Last year, he completed the half-kilometre course in a wheelchair. Had the Bedford 5k existed two years ago he could have walked the full course, smiling all the way. Such is the challenge facing so many with lung cancer.
I started this race for my own reasons, but I never forget that each participant has a personal story motivating them to run or walk. As the event drew to a close this year, I walked out to meet the final two walkers on the course. We walked together for the last few hundred metres, exchanging stories. One woman lost her father to cancer some 15 years ago, and carried his picture in her pocket as she walked.
Now I look ahead to next year, unsure if I’ll be able to visit my father after the race and tell him how many people ran, who ran the fastest time, and how his granddaughter finished the whole course without tripping. I know I’m not alone in my uncertainty. This gives me hope that the legacy my father leaves behind – my brother and I, my daughters, this race, and the countless people he helped with his community work for organizations like Scouts Canada, Junior Achievement, the Black Duck Committee and more – will help even more people find the strength to fight and eventually beat lung cancer.
On June 27, 2010, I’ll be in Dewolf Park bright and early for the third annual Bedford 5k. I ask my fellow Bedford readers to join me.
Director, Bedford 5k to Beat Lung Cancer
Resident of Bedford for 25 years and proud son of Gerald David St-Amand – husband, father, grandfather and community volunteer
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org