It is their sole fundraiser each year: a run or walk for KidsInclusive at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, Ont.
More than 600 people — a record — laced up their sneakers and hit the road for the 23rd annual run Sunday.
This year the organization aimed to raise $40,000 and surpassed that, raising over $50,000.
“We use the funds to support a number of things, including the exceptional needs of many of our children and families,” says Margaret van Beers with KidsInclusive. “There are a number of expenses that are not covered publicly. People don’t always understand that.”
Participants could either run or walk a five- or eight-kilometre course.
KidsInclusive is one of 21 children’s treatment centres in Ontario, providing rehabilitation and support services for children and youth with physical and developmental challenges in Kingston and the surrounding area for over 40 years.
“My own son has special needs and is a part of this amazing programme,” says Jessica Hellard, running in support of her two-year-old son. “I haven’t seen anything else like it, but they have really connected us with all sorts of resources around the community.”
Hellard, along with friends from her gym, ran the five-kilometre course.
“We do this because it’s a great cause. We get a bunch of our clients to participate and donate — to give back to the community,” says Josh Maveety from UFit.
Money raised is also used for specialized training for staff, vehicle and home modifications and specialized equipment and beds.
“There are lots of other parents and kids involved in it and they do playgroups and things like that and have events, to meet other people going through the same thing,” says Hellard.