Roxanna Gadd-Frey’s family has had many battles with cancer.
Some have been won, but others have been lost.
Her experiences gave her personal investment to run in Peacock Collegiate’s third annual Polar Bear Run on Sunday at noon at the Wakamow Valley oval. The five-kilometer run or walk raised funds for the Terry Fox Foundation.
“I lost my mom to cancer when I was two. So I didn’t know her,” said Gadd-Frey. “I’ve had family members who’ve suffered through cancer and didn’t make it, but then I’ve also had family members who’ve survived and I think it’s because of the fundraising and stuff that goes on. That’s why we’re out here.”
She has participated in the annual run since it began in 2011 and each year she’s walked away with a Terry Fox t-shirt for having raised the most money. This year, she raised approximately $2,400.
“It’s not really me. It’s really the students. I go around the school with a little jar,” said Gadd-Frey. “The kids have tried to give me money at hockey games.”
With a wind chill on Sunday making it feel like - 35 Celsius, Gadd-Frey was well dressed to stay warm.
“I think I have four layers on. So I’m sure I’ll be good. I have to walk some. I’m not as good a runner as a lot of these guys, so it takes me a little longer out there,” she said prior to the beginning of the run. “Some of these kids will be in here in 20 minutes and I’ll be out there for about 40. I’m ready for it though.”
Each year, participants have received a Peacock Collegiate-themed piece of clothing. The first year was a t-shirt, last year was a tuque and this year is a pair of socks. Gadd-Frey now has one of each.
Grade 11 Peacock student Riley Farago is also one of the participants with each clothing item. She was in Grade 9 when she participated in the inaugural Polar Bear Run began and she hasn’t missed a year yet.
“It’s a very important cause,” said Farago. “Actually my grandpa had cancer. So it’s important to me just to have awareness of it and to show our support and raise money for it.”
She said she enjoys taking part in the run.
“It’s really fun. You always say, ‘Oh, I have to run in the cold,’ but you just go,” said Farago. “It’s great.”
She too was dressed warmly and said the best way she copes with the cold is to run.
“(I) just bundle up and just have good company so you don’t think about it too much and then it doesn’t bother you that much,” said Farago. “I was nervous for this year. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’ and I have, like, 10 layers on.”
For Grade 12 student Cody Campbell, Sunday was his first time participating in the run.
“I go to Peacock and (teacher Renee Verge) asked me to participate and I thought it was a good idea,” he said, adding he has no personal reason for running.
“I just think it’s a good cause … It helps people.”
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.
Polar Bear Run exceeds its fundraising goal
It was like running with polar bears on Sunday.
“Instead of running the Terry Fox run in September, we’ve chosen to do it in December. It’s just a better fit for our school,” said event co-organizer and Peacock Collegiate physical education teacher Renee Verge on Sunday.
“It’s kind of a unique twist on it, calling it a Peacock Polar Bear Run, and most definitely it is a cold run today so I think the title suits today quite nicely.”
The goal was to raise $5,000 and just before the run started at noon, the tally was at $5,500.
“We’re really pumped about that,” said Verge.
She said participants could do a short run or walk if they wanted, but the important thing was to be sure everyone had their face covered. She gave participants tips on how to stay warm before the run began.
“I think it’s safe to say our numbers as far as participants are going to be down a little bit because of the weather, but you know what, that’s OK,” said Verge. “It’s all about getting involved at whatever level you can and a lot of people dropped off their money last week.”
She said there are several people who have participated in the run year after year as well as some community members.
She added raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation is important to continue doing.
“We can make a difference by celebrating the fact that we’re healthy enough to be active,” said Verge. “We can make a difference by raising some money that hopefully leads to an eventual cure for cancer. So that’s our focus on this run, for sure.”