After brother’s death, sister turns to Tely 10

Raising money for childrens’ sports charity

Published on July 20, 2012
Shown outside her home in St. John’s Thursday afternoon, Trish Smith displays a T-shirt she had made for this Sunday’s Tely 10 Road Race. She is running in memory of her late brother Cleon Smith with all the funds raised going towards the provincial Kids Sport program. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Just over a year after her brother’s death, Trish Smith is running the Tely 10 to keep his memory alive.

 Smith had tried to convince her brother Cleon to run the annual race with her for years. But she said he had always declined, telling her that racing wasn’t really his thing.

“He wasn’t really a competitive person,” Smith said.

That statement might come as a surprise. Cleon was known in his hometown, St. Anthony, for being a star hockey player.

He got his start with the Midget AAA Western Kings and later played for the Ontario Hockey League with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the University of Prince Edward Island and the Corner Brook Royals.

“Even though he was very athletic, very talented, he was a very modest sportsman,” Smith said.

Sadly, Cleon disappeared during a snowstorm in April 2011.

In town for the race Sunday, Smith sat down with The Telegram to explain why she’s running the Tely 10 for the second year in a row.

After Cleon’s death, Smith said her family struggled to make sense of their loss.

Although her brother would never be able to run with her, she decided to run the race alone.

“It’s time to bite the bullet and kind of try my best at it,” Smith said, recalling her thoughts at the time.

At the race’s registration, she noticed a list of charities in need of fundraising.

Smith said one charity, KidSport Canada, stood out because it helps underprivileged children participate in organized sports.

“He was really an inspiration for a lot of young athletes in St. Anthony,” Smith said.

She said she decided to raise money for KidSport Canada so that her brother’s memory could help inspire those in need.

“It’s nice to let people know that he’s still thought about and he can still have a positive influence,” Smith said.

She ran the 2011 race in 90 minutes and raised more than $2,800.

This year, she’s gathered a team of 10 friends — Team Cle — to raise even more money for Kidsport NL. Cle was Cleon’s nickname.

She said she wants to keep it local since her family and all her friends are Newfoundlanders.

They’ve raised more than $3,000 so far.

Like her brother, Smith is not overly competitive. It’s not so much the dollar amount that matters, but the idea that Cleon’s legacy will help others that counts.

“I would have been content if we had raised $200,” she said.

Smith said fundraising for KidSport Canada and KidSport NL has helped her use her grief for something good.

“You deal with it in a lot of different ways, but this is one way I’ve found that’s a really positive way,” Smith said.

Smith even ran a half-marathon on Cleon’s birthday this past May.

Smith said she hopes to keep this going. “I want Team Cle to get bigger every year.”

Remembering her brother’s modesty in spite of his talent, Smith said he probably wouldn’t know what to do with all the fuss.

“I think he’d be really humbled by it,” Smith said.

robin.levinson@thetelegram.com