Campbell-Dickinson event gathers hundreds to Gem City
TORONTO — George Komar, chairman of the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization, said the city’s nickname of the Gem City is fitting because of “all of the jewels” who live there and support its events, especially the seventh-annual Campbell-Dickinson St. Patrick Run-Bike-Walk Saturday.
Chilly temperatures and the threat of rain didn’t keep hundreds of runners and walkers of various ages from turning out to participate in the event, which raised funds for the Trinity Health System Tony Teramana Cancer Center Emergency Assistance Relief Fund.
The fund has provided transportation assistance, nutritional supplements, medicine and equipment for more than 1,600 local cancer patients and their families. In addition to ongoing efforts to beautify the city, the coalition has held a variety of community events, including an Octoberfest, farmers market and bass tournament.
The walk was inspired by the late Pat Campbell, a Toronto-area resident and local attorney who died from complications resulting from cancer; and Jenny Dickinson, a local woman diagnosed with breast cancer during her third pregnancy.
Mother and child survived, with Dickinson’s third child delivered a week and a half early so Dickinson could undergo cancer treatment. She said caring for an infant and her other young children at the same time was made easier with the support she received from family, friends and community members.
“Toronto is a closeknit community. Everybody helps,” she said.
Dickinson presented Komar and Kristopher Grimm, the coalition’s special events coordinator, a check for $7,300 raised by Jenny’s Journey, an event combining vendors of various home products, drawings for assorted gift baskets and dancing.
Komar said the amount raised Saturday was still being tallied, but more than $175,000 has been raised by it, Jenny’s Journey and the St. Baldrick’s, hair-shaving fundraiser.
In a corner of the Toronto Emergency Medical Services station, Matt Lewis was awaiting the arrival of several local barbers and hairstylists who volunteered to shave the heads of area residents who agreed to go hairless in exchange for donations to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a national charity that supports childhood cancer research.
Lewis said usually 15 to 30 men and boys participate, though he can recall a woman who took part since he began coordinating the Toronto event six years ago. He said his father, John, has been a regular participant but this year is battling cancer himself.
The fact that cancer affects people of all ages was underscored by the inclusion of the third annual Noah Long Kids 1K Run-Walk held in memory of the 8-year-old son of David and Katie Long, who died in 2014, following a 10-month battle with leukemia.
An image of Noah appears in a mural at the corner of Clark and Fourth streets along with a picture he drew of himself with Jesus Christ.
“Our faith is what gets us through (his loss),” said his mother. “We know that we will see him again.”
She was among many family members and friends, dubbed Noah’s Warriors, who were selling food during the run.
Grimm said this year’s run was dedicated to Ben Buchanan, a local man who brought teams of as many as 100 to the event.
Buchanan recently lost his battle with cancer, said Grimm, “but he’s here in spirit.”
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)