Running For Rights
Combine a 3° temperature, a dose of sun, a course at Lake Ontario’s shoreline and 26,000 runners. There you have it: the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Scattered among them on October 18 were 12 individuals running for rights. Together, we had contacted many friends and relatives to sponsor our efforts. They contributed close to $7,000 for Amnesty’s work!
“I had never run more than 10 km, but I decided to tackle the marathon as a personal goal,” said Johann Cooper. “Before I knew it, I was on the Amnesty team, wearing I'm running to support Amnesty International on my back.”
“It was an incredible experience to both finish the run and raise over $1000 for Amnesty, a cause I believe so deeply in,” exclaimed Tim Carpentier. “I felt proud to wear the Amnesty sign on my back to show that I was running for justice. If even one person saw the sign and felt comforted by the sign, or chose to get involved and support our work, then I was successful.”
Ketevan Tkabladze was nervous long before the event. "For someone who had never run even 5 km, a 42 km marathon would be a real challenge. But I could not stop my drive wanting to do something that seemed to be impossible for me. I made it happen and reached the finish line with victory on my face. And this could not have happened without a huge support of my donors and my training partner, James Caldwell [pictured next to Ketevan]. This may seem an insignificant contribution, but I believe that every attempt to raise awareness in public about the defence of international human rights helps and from now on I believe that if there is a will, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.”
Not everyone crossed the finish line in ecstasy. Nicole Stewart suffered what she guessed was a sprained ankle at 18km mark. Did she carry on for the last 3 km of her half-marathon? Yes, she did!
One registered runner suffered back pains in the days before the run. His wife Merryl David-Ismayil stepped up at the last minute and finished the half-marathon in his place! “I will do it again,” she promised.
Marilyn McKim had tacked a sign on my back that read "I'm running for Amnesty International". Alongside her was her son, Robin, sporting a Stop Torture t-shirt with the Amnesty candle on the back. This promopted several comments from runners passing them: "Oh, that's a great organization" or "Amnesty has so much integrity." The best of the day, however, was "I'm a torture survivor. Thank you for running for Amnesty International."