Kathryn Strilchuk 49, Okotoks
In August 1996, a psychic told me I would save a life. I signed up for a CPR course. In September of that same year, my brother Michael was diagnosed with Leukemia. I remember sleeping on the hospital floor during his first round of chemotherapy like it was yesterday.
Remember that I said I was going to save a life? I was confident that Michael would be fine, and that we would be a match for bone-marrow donation. It was true. We were a perfect 6/6 match.
I hit a bump in the road a couple of years after Michael’s transplant. Depression hit me hard. It was the kids at school, my strong friend group and running that got me through it all.
Running helped ease my feelings of hurt. It brought me peace and a strong group of peers. I joined clubs; I ran races. I ran. One day I discovered a Team in Training pamphlet. This was something I could do! My first event was the Vancouver Half Marathon in 2000.
Since then I have run San Diego, San Francisco, the inaugural Disney Princess and Disneyland more times that I can count! With each event came new connections, new friends, new challenges and new goals.
Two of my last three events were not without their challenges. I’ve run with Bell’s palsy and a concussion and the important thing is that I did it. I watched my brother and others I’ve run for never quit. I couldn’t quit.
This year’s Disney Star Wars Half Marathon brought more excitement than challenge. As the only Canadian member of TNT at this event, I was embraced, once again, by “family” I hadn’t met.
Not only did I run a great race, but I had an extra special chEAR team with me. My husband, Joe, who has run three TNT events by my side, joined me as support on and off the course. My 12-year-old son, Jamison, who has had many “fund raising” birthday parties and donated all his money to TNT, travelled with us. For the first time, Michael was there. I was so excited to share this experience with him. He could finally see, first hand, the love, dedication and commitment of TNT participants from across the land.
I always say that I run because I can, and I continue to give because I can. I am lucky!