Guelph man runs 104 km to raise $ 20,000 to support families living with cancer

McGarr will start the race Wednesday in Napanee and finish it on Canada Day in Smiths Falls

A Guelph man challenges himself to complete an ultramarathon in 18 hours to raise $ 20,000 for his best friend’s charity.

Klark McGarr is a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran and Director of We Fund Care, an organization that provides financial support to families struggling with cancer. The association was created in memory of McGarr’s best friend, Ryan Saturno.

Calling it Run2FundCare, McGarr will hike 104 miles along the Cataraqui Trail, starting in Napanee on Wednesday night and ending in Smiths Falls on the afternoon of July 1.

“I ran a half marathon every Sunday for the past two months to train for this,” said McGarr, who called himself more of a “recreational runner” before the event. my belt.”

About three months ago, McGarr remembers two of his military friends approaching him to join them for a run along the Catarqui Trail.

“They asked me if I wanted to come do this trail like we did in Cataraqui,” said McGarr. “And I accepted without asking too many questions.”

However, friends forgot to mention that it would be 104 kilometers.

“I didn’t want to back down,” McGarr said, “A friend of mine immediately backed up because they didn’t have enough time to train, but I didn’t want to.

So McGarr decided he would need a strong “why”, something that would motivate him to finish the race. It was then that he decided to partner with We Fund Care and raise funds to help families struggling with cancer to cover expenses not covered by insurance, namely gasoline. , hotels, lost wages due to missing work, etc.

Being one of the directors of We Fund Care, McGarr said they quickly agreed.

“I approached the board and said, ‘This is something that we should try to promote,’” he said.

Regarding his relationship with Ryan, McGarr explains that he and Saturno were childhood friends who attended elementary and high school together. Speaking of Saturno, McGarr mentions that he considers him more of a brother.

“Even when I left for the military, it was not uncommon for his house to be the first place I stopped in town,” he said.

In 2010, Saturno was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, the same cancer diagnosis as Terry Fox’s. For six years, McGarr watched Saturno go through the ups and downs of treatment before he passed away in 2016.

“” He never gave up, he never stopped smiling, “McGarr said of his friend, who was positive and still made McGarr laugh until the end.

So, when looking for a reason to stick with the ultramarathon, McGarr chose to think about Saturno and what he went through.

“I don’t compare what I’m going through with Ryan,” he said, “I know it’s going to be a grueling event for me, but if these guys can do this for years and years of their lives, and keep getting good news and bad news, what is 6pm? ”

“With Ryan and the foundation, and the families who rely on us, it was obvious.”

McGarr began training with a physiotherapist friend and former Iron Man athlete, while also immersing himself in the ultrarunner community to learn about what to expect.

“I listened to a lot of audiobooks about my travels in and out of Toronto from some of the greats in the sport, which gave me an idea of ​​what to expect, and what happens to me is normal.” , said McGarr.

McGarr mentions that he experienced great mental growth while preparing to do the ultramarathon.

“Immerse yourself in the moment and be mindful, put one foot in front of the other and that sort of thing,” he said.

While this is a great effort, McGarr isn’t doing it alone. He will be joined by a friend who will ride alongside him on a bicycle, and assistance vehicles.

Since promoting the race on social media, McGarr said he has received many encouraging messages and texts from other people.

“I received a lot of wonderful responses from the public, most of my family and Ryan’s family, and some people around me,” he said. “I know the response from our community has been amazing.”

With the $ 20,000, McGarr said the money would either help support 40 families for a month or a family for several months. Since launching We Fund Care in 2016, it has supported 97 families in Wellington County and surrounding areas.

The original fundraising goal was $ 10,000, but the campaign quickly exceeded it and increased to $ 20,000. Since then, the campaign has raised over $ 16,000 through a GoFundMe page created for the event and in direct donations to the organization.


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