Jule Koch Brison | Mar 31, 2011

Photo: Scott Cannatta (centre) with students at NAEC. Photo: Katie Ohlke.

Some of us get exhausted just thinking of a marathon, let alone running one. But Scott Cannata, a physical anthropology student at Trent University in Peterborough, intends to run one marathon, or 42.2 kilometres, every day for approximately seven months in a run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. That translates to 209 marathons.

Cannata’s journey, named The Run To Live, will start on May 1, 2011 at St. John’s, NL and end at Port Renfrew, BC around mid-December if all goes as planned.

Scott Cannata has many local family connections and on March 26, a fundraiser was held for him at the Flinton hall. Many bands, groups and individuals donated their time and talents to make the event a success.

One of the organizers, Beverly James, is a cousin of Scott’s, and she says she was overwhelmed by the response. “We didn’t have that much time to organize it,” she said, “but everyone pitched in – all the musicians - and people just showed up with plates of sandwiches and food for the buffet dinner.” Beverley said that the musicians really helped each other – one group had forgotten their keyboard so John Fradenburg of Log Cabin Music drove all the way back to his store to bring one.

The organizers are planning another fundraiser, to be held when Scott passes through Kaladar on his run, and James says that all the musicians have already indicated their willingness to play again on that day.

“The run will be really tough for him, both physically and psychologically – perhaps the psychological part will be the hardest,” James said, “but he’s a tremendous young man. He can do it.”

Unlike his hero, Terry Fox, Scott Cannata has never had cancer, but when he was 12 his mother Deborah battled cervical cancer, which affected him deeply. Later, he lost his paternal grandfather to cancer. On a video that was made about the Run to Live, he says that that showed him that not everybody survives the way his mother has.

In September 2009 he decided to undertake the run and has been training ever since for it. He runs about 150 to 200 kilometres a week, in addition to cross-training.

In addition to his mother and grandfather, he has dedicated the run to several people, one of whom is his six-year-old cousin, Isabelle Lemke, of Belleville. Isabelle is almost finished her treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia after than two years of chemotherapy and in spite of being very sick from the treatments last week, she was able to be present at the fundraiser on Saturday night.

Scott is also planning to dedicate part of each run to someone he reads about in the letters he will be receiving.

The day before the Flinton event, Scott visited North Addington Education Centre (NAEC). He told the students, "Running a marathon a day is hard and will hurt, but it is nothing compared to the pain of dealing with cancer on a daily basis." Many NAEC students came out to Flinton to support Scott - they performed, volunteered and spoke.

In the coming months students and adults will be writing to Scott and they will track his journey via a large map of Canada at the school. For every toonie donation that comes in, students will put a sticker on the map.

Beverley James said that a group of runners from the school intends to meet Scott on Highway 7 and run with him. Of course, he will pass by Sharbot Lake first and she hopes that NAEC’s efforts will inspire other schools in the area to undertake fundraisers. “Perhaps runners from one school could escort Scott to meet runners from the other,” she said.

The fundraisers that are taking place right now are to raise funds for the expenses of the trip. The Flinton event brought in $3,000, and Beverly James wishes to thank all the musicians and the many people who helped on Saturday night.

The fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society will start when the run starts on May 1. The goal of The Run To Live is to raise $2 for every Canadian, or approximately $70 million. Because of his local connections, many from this area will probably be watching the run with special interest. To follow Scott’s progress, to donate, or post messages of support, visit www.theruntolive.com. 


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