Running the Rock for Children’s Wish

Colin MacLean
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The HMCS St. John’s Run the Rock crew have blown its fundraising goal out of the water. They shot for $42,000. Their grand total was $63,838.

That is absolutely fantastic news to hear after days of gruelling physical activity, said Lt. Keith Joy, and it makes it all worthwhile.

“The actual physical part of the run was probably the easiest part ... because when you’re motivated by the kids and what they will receive through it, it was the easiest part for sure,” said Joy.

Run the Rock raises money annually for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. The group usually consists of about a dozen runners who are all crewmembers of the HMCS St. John’s. This is the 17th year for the event.

The runners started their journey in Port Aux Basques on June 7 and finished at St. John’s harbour Saturday. Their shipmates, family and the public gathered to cheer them on.

Joy is a newcomer to the run, having only recently been assigned to HMCS St. John’s. But the thought of participating somehow had always been in the back of his mind.

“Being from here and involved in the Sea Cadet program before, I’ve always known about the program. So once I got posted to the HMCS St. John’s in the fall, it was one of my priorities,” he said.

“Just to see the pride in the guys’ faces that have done it in years past, it’s really something.  And the kids, how much they benefit from this is unreal. So that’s why I wanted to be a part of it this year.” 

Others in the running group had a more personal stake in it.

Petty Officer 2nd Class, Jody Baker’s three-year-old cousin Averee Pierce had a wish granted a couple years ago. The Backyardigans came to visit her in Harbour Breton.

She died earlier this year.

“I’ve seen first-hand the direct impact of what we do, and the money we raise, where it actually goes. So it was important, near and dear to our hearts that Avery got granted a wish. It was absolutely awesome that Children’s Wish could do that. That’s why I’m here,” said Baker.

Leading Seaman Frank Hennebury, from Lord’s Cove, has a sister who was also granted a wish several years ago.

Hennebury’s knees were hurt shortly after the run started, but he pressed on. He was driven by memories of his sister’s smile as her wish came true.

“It drove me beyond belief to finish this run,” he said. “I’ve got a 16-year military career. I’ve been pretty much everywhere our military has sent people and this is by far the highlight of my career. I would sacrifice promotion, position and everything else to come back and do this every year”.

“Every time I think about not doing the run myself, I think about the poor kids who don’t have the option to get out and do that themselves,” he added.  

The runners report conditions were hot in some place, but were favourable overall. The biggest complaint they had was of the hills, and even those complaints were made with an exasperated smile.

Those discomforts will be worth it reassured, said Dave Walsh, funding co-ordinator with the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

Every wish the foundation grants costs an average of $10,000, so at least six kids will benefit from the this year’s Run the Rock, he said.

Walsh also expressed glee at this year’s record setting grand total. Last year was also a record-setting year, so the trend is definitely upwards, he said.

The only explanation he offered was that it’s becoming better known.

“Its really got legs now. It’s really entrenched in all the different communities. People know it, they look forward to it every year,” he said.

On behalf of his organization, and the kids and families they help, Walsh also offered his thanks to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Just a really big ‘thank you’ to everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador who came out and supported the runners and gave to the Run the Rock fundraiser. It’s going to grant a lot of wishes here in our province and we’re really thankful for that,” he said.

Twitter: @TelegramMacLean

Organizations: Rock for Children, Wish Foundation of Canada

Geographic location: Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador

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