The spirit of Roger Neilson was alive in plenty of hearts Sunday morning at Scotiabank Place.
Nearly 1,000 participants gathered to show their support for Roger's House — the pediatric respite and palliative care hospice named in memory of the former Ottawa Senators assistant coach — during the seventh annual Scotiabank Walk, Roll & Run, presented by the Ottawa Citizen
The event, which featured 2K and 5K races along with a Tot-Trot, raised $183,653 for the Sens Foundation's charity of choice. Walk, Roll & Run is one of two major events the Foundation organizes annually which specifically target funding for Roger's House (the other is a telethon).
"It's one of our flagship events," said Sens Foundation president Danielle Robinson. "It's unlike a lot of events in that it's non-competitive. It's a very leisurely 2K and 5K."
For many, it is also an emotional occasion as well.
"Lots of parents, families, friends, neighbours and extended families of children who have passed away at Roger's House come out and walk in loving memory (of them)," said Robinson. "It's a really special morning."
Walk, Roll & Run is also held on the same weekend that Neilson died in 2003 after a long battle with two forms of cancer.
"It just seems like the most appropriate time to come together, to remember the kids of Roger's House, to remember Roger Neilson," said Robinson.
This year's event featured the debut of Roger's Dream Team, a group of 11 children who are currently receiving care at Roger's House. Also lending a hand were Senators defenceman Matt Carkner
and forward Jesse Winchester
"It really has become an event that people in this community come out to celebrate and recognize the families receiving care (at Roger's House)," said Robinson.
Meanwhile, another Sens Foundation charity benefited from the generosity of participants in the annual Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival at Mooney's Bay. For the fifth straight year, the Foundation is the event's top-tier charity, with funding being directed toward Project s.t.e.p.
Senators defenceman Chris Phillips
and his wife, Erin, were the festival's honorary chairs.
"It's the largest festival of its kind in North America and it brings together paddlers from all over the region," said Robinson. "Every year, they continue to raise more money and give it back to the community."