|From left, five-year old Meagan Ribeiro, and her brothers, nine-year old Ryan and seven-year old Dylan, pose with Roger's House honorary chairperson Mike Fisher at the 4th Annual Direct Energy Walk, Roll and Run for Roger's House.|
by Todd Anderson
The 4th Annual Direct Energy Walk, Roll & Run for Roger's House collected $211,500, setting a new fundraising record for the event. More than 500 people took advantage of a beautiful sunny morning on Sunday to complete their chosen distance of 10K, 5K or 2K.
During the opening ceremonies, 2006 honorary co-chairs FranÃ§ois Dumont and Elizabeth Lorenzin - whose son Luca was the first patient to die at Roger's House, a pediatric and palliative care facility located on the grounds at CHEO, - shared their appreciation of seeing everyone in attendance.
"To see all the people here today, this community has really come together," Dumont said. "I started to believe in angels when I met the people at Roger's House. If Roger (Neilson, the former Ottawa Senators assistant coach) was here to see you all here today, he would think this is pretty neat."
Lorenzin will never forget her involvement in the 2006 event.
"Our journey as the co-chairs has been among the most rewarding things in our lives," she said. "We never dreamed that 90 of our loving friends and family would come walk with us today in memory of Luca and raise more than $23,000. We walk today with love in our hearts for not only Luca, but for all the children who have used Roger's House, and for all those children who will use Roger' House."
As the honorary chairperson of Roger's House, Senators forward Mike Fisher recalled his relationship with Neilson.
"I lived near him in Peterborough (Ont.), and he had so many neat games for kids to play at his house. He wanted to provide a safe haven for kids to hang out. That's what Roger's House is today."
Participating in the 5K, Sura Larochelle entered the race just four days after beginning a co-operative placement at Roger's House from the University of Waterloo. She's already impressed with her co-workers.
"The amount of support is unbelievable. I see a lot of fellow employees out here today. It's not just about work, this is part of their everyday lives."
Bob and Sue Grimes, along with their son Mathew, were running in memory of Bob and Sue's granddaughter, Makayla, who died last June at the facility.
"She was the second patient to pass away while at Roger's House," says Sue Grimes. "This event today isn't quite closure, but it sure helps."
Roger's House is the charity of choice for the Ottawa Senators and its foundation. The walk, roll and run event is the first of several charity events scheduled during the 2006-07 season that will benefit the facility.