When I signed up to participate in this year’s Gutsy Walk, a 5K fundraising walk benefitting Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, I did so for two reasons. One, I wanted to do something active to remind myself that even after the complicated surgeries I’ve had, I still have a relatively fit and capable body. Two, I wanted to raise funds for a charity that helped me understand my condition when I was first diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease.
After signing up for the walk in early May, I took to Facebook and Twitter to promote my personal fundraising page, which included a rehash of my sob story in an attempt to win sympathy and donations. It seemed to work pretty well at first as a steady stream of donations came in over the first week or so. I emailed family and friends who aren’t on social media and garnered a few more donations. The support waned as time went on, and understandably so. People tune out to the same request after a while, and the people who already donated weren’t going to donate again. Still, by the time the walk rolled around on Sunday, June 8, my friends and family had chipped in over $1300 for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
The first person to donate to my campaign was my girlfriend, Jayee. She even gave to the cause a second time when she signed up to take part in the Gutsy Walk herself on the morning of the walk at Sunnybrook Park in Toronto. Incidentally, June 8 was our three-year anniversary, and we spent the day doing something for charity. We’re quite the impressive couple.
Aggressive as we are, Jayee and I were not content to simply walk amidst the pack of participants, even though the Gutsy Walk is a non-competitive event. So when the walk began, we started weaving our way through the masses. Past the parents with strollers, past the couples with dogs, past the kids with painted faces. We ran through the gears and went from a stroll to a brisk walk to a jog to a sprint.
In our haste, Jayee’s right foot hit an uneven patch on the asphalt path and she rolled her ankle. We stopped for a moment to assess her injury. The tough cookie she is, Jayee rubbed her ankle, gingerly put some weight back on her right foot, took a few slow steps, and kept right on walking. A little further down the path, Jayee suggested we start running again, because a young, athletic-looking couple we passed earlier was catching up to us. So we ran again – Jayee with her purse and sprained ankle, me with my backpack. We didn’t plan on running during the event, but the possibility of other people passing us and reaching the finish line before us was simply unacceptable.
We ran stretches of the 5-kilometre route through Sunnybrook Park, but still took time to enjoy the journey. We took photos of the trees and the streams and the railway bridges that tower above the grass. We beat that athletic-looking couple to the finish line. Hells yeah we did.
Because of our pace, we were amongst the first “walkers” to dig into the free food after the walk. We feasted on burgers and pizza slices, washed them down with complimentary bottles of Ensure, and finished off with pink cotton candy and a blue snow cone. We lingered around the start/finish area for a while, listening to live music and chatting with our friends from Mount Sinai Hospital, whose Gutsy Walk team raised a whopping $90,865, far and away the most by any team in Canada.
I felt moderately proud of my ability to finish the walk in good time, the fact that I helped raise some money for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, and the fact that my J-pouch held up for the entire event – I didn’t need to use the bathroom at any point during the walk. But perhaps what I got out of the Gutsy Walk more than anything else was the feeling of gratefulness for fact that I’ve connected in some way or another with so many people who were ready and willing to donate when called upon. I was really happy when a donation came in from someone who I haven’t spoken to in ages. High school and college friends who I only know now through Facebook gave to the cause. I was moved to think that people I haven’t communicated with in years, in some cases over a decade, thought enough of me to want to help. I am, of course, grateful for every donation, no matter the sum and no matter the contributor.
So thank you to everyone who donated to my personal fundraising effort, and thank you to all of the volunteers, organizers, and participants in this year’s Gutsy Walk!
The Gutsy Walk took place in 59 communities across Canada on June 8, and nearly 15,000 people participated. At the time of writing, the events collectively raised over $3 million for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The organization will continue to accept Gutsy Walk donations until July 2; so if you want to make a contribution, head over to gutsywalk.ca.