In 2011, organizers of London’s CIBC Run for the Cure had a goal of announcing $1 million raised for breast cancer research on the day of the event — they fell $77,000 short.
Gillian Gallant is in her third year as run director for the event, the 2013 edition of which takes place on Sunday (Oct. 6) in Victoria Park. Gallant says missing that target did nothing to diminish the accomplishments of thousands of runners, but rather speaks to the ongoing importance of the run.
“Yes, a goal is important, but the spirit of the day is important too, it means a lot to everybody,” Gallant said. “We didn’t make the goal that year, but we raised a lot of money and so many people were grateful being involved.”
That spirit is reflected in just how far the London run has come from its beginnings in 1995. That year (the national event had started three years earlier), 300 London runners raised $23,183.
In 2012, the local run had 4,060 participants, raising $832,000. Over the past 17 years, supporters of the London run have raised $8,040,704.
The popularity of the event, Gallant said, stems from many factors, not the least of which being the cause itself, the fight against breast cancer. The thing about breast cancer, Gallant said, is people not only hear about it everywhere, but it is hitting a younger crowd, meaning it remains just as important as ever to keep pushing the message of awareness and the need to fundraise ongoing research.
“That pink ribbon, you see it everywhere. It is recognizable by everyone, all ages too,” Gallant said. “I know there are getting to be more runs every year, more events for more charities. We just hope people continue to realize the need for this.”
If the number of Run for the Cure events is any indication, that message remains a popular one. In 1992, there was only the Toronto event, Gallant said, when London came about in 1995, it was one of 10 participating cities.
Last year there were 59 sites, Canada-wide. This year, Gallant estimates there are 67 Run for the Cure events taking place across Canada.
In an effort to attract more participants, and perhaps a different level of athlete, the London run will be one of five sites across the country holding timed runs. Along with that, however, the decision was made to charge a $40 entry fee for the run, $45 if someone registers for the timed run.
Debbi Harley, teams co-ordinator for the local run, said there are 219 teams registered this year, which is down a little bit from past years where London had almost 300 teams.
Did the registration fee cut into the number of teams registering? Harley said it could have played a role, but people need to understand what the registration fee will be used for.
Instead of dipping into the money raised for breast cancer research, Harley said the money from registration will be used to offset the costs of holding the run.
“We have to pay for tents and port-a-potties and police. Instead of using any of the funds that were raised from the run, the foundation made a decision they would charge the entrance,” Harley said. “Last year we asked people to raise a minimum of $150, which they did no problem. But some just didn’t like the registration fee. So we will see how this year goes.”
Those 219 teams represent a wide range of participants, from toddlers to grandparents. Team sizes also range widely as well, from two people to one team that has 71 members.
“For me, it isn’t about the money, it is bringing everyone together for the cause. It is about friendship,” Harley said. “There is no doubt the money helps, but it is pulling together friends, family. Maybe you only get to see your family members once a year and it could be for this one event. It is a wide range of people and that is a great thing.”