For some, the idea of waking up before noon on weekends is utterly ridiculous. The notion of getting up early to run five kilometers in the rain is an even more distant notion. Nonetheless, that is exactly what thousands of Montrealers, myself included, did this past Sunday.
The CIBC Run for the Cure raises money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and takes place in various cities across Canada on the same day. Despite the cold and rainy weather conditions, countless determined individuals showed up, equipped with raincoats and umbrellas, to run or walk through downtown Montreal.
Streets were closed to motorists starting at the corner of Rene-Levesque and Peel, in front of the CIBC building. Runners and walkers made their way along Ste. Catherine St. to Place des arts, then back again to the starting point. Runners were the first to begin the race at 9:30 a.m., while individuals who walked began around 10 a.m.
Participants were given a bag containing a t-shirt, pin, coupons and important information regarding breast cancer detection. Numerous community groups had personalized t-shirts, displaying the names of specific university faculties, sports organizations and youth groups.
My mother, younger brother and I participated in the race, and braved the conditions to support a cause close to our hearts. My grandmother passed away from breast cancer before I was born, and although I never knew her, I felt that taking part in the event was a good way to remember and celebrate her life.
My mother ran, while my brother and I decided to walk. Within minutes of being in the rain, we were drenched. Heavy winds caused my umbrella to embarrassingly invert itself inside out as my shoes soaked through.
Nonetheless, the hundreds of people around us continued smiling, clapping and cheering. The mood was extremely positive and it encouraged us to keep going, even when my legs felt like they were going to give way.
I thought about my grandmother and about the fact that a detectable and curable disease prevented me from knowing her. However, I felt grateful that events such as the Run for the Cure are raising awareness for breast cancer and ultimately save lives.
When the race was finished, food and beverages were made available. Participants were encouraged to visit the numerous information tents set up in the park adjacent to Peel St. Some participants danced to a choir group’s uplifting songs, but most headed back to their cars to escape the relentless downpour.
The race itself was not only a demonstration of physical ability and determination, but it also displayed a willingness to support an important, life-changing cause. I was proud to participate as I honored my family in such a pro-active manner.
As we walked away, we could still hear the singers’ voices through the sound of rain hitting the pavement, and although they never did succeed to “let it shine.let it shine. let it shine!” it didn’t stop them, or us, from trying.
In Montreal, about 14,000 people took to the streets in the downtown quarter, and raised more than $1.25 million for research and education efforts.