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Thousands march for lost daughter on Mother's Day

TORONTO, Ont. – While Mother’s Day is generally about celebrating the lives and memories of mothers across the world, one mother in Toronto has instead used the special day to keep the memory of her young daughter alive, turning her own pain into hope for others.

Thousands of people gathered to take part in the 10th annual Meagan’s Walk Sunday morning – an event designed to raise money for research on paediatric brain tumours while commemorating the legacy of Meagan Bebenek, a 5-year-old girl who passed away from an inoperable and cancerous brain tumour.

Meagan’s mother, Denise Bebenek, told 680News the event is about more than simply raising money.

“It’s to show that these children and their families need not journey alone,” Bebenek said. “That at the end of the day we really are one community to look after each other, and these children are our future.”

Meagan’s Walk began at Ontario Place at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, from where the crowd made their way to Sick Kids Hospital for the iconic human hug.

Participants formed a human circle and hugged around the hospital, which Bebenek says really illustrates the spirit of Meagan’s Walk.

“When a family goes through something like this, the greatest gift that they can receive, and that we can give to them is the gift of compassion, hence the big hug,” Bebenek said.

On its 10th year, Meagan’s Walk has already raised more than $1.7-million for research on brain tumours, and organizers hoped to add another $400,000 to that total today.

“I encourage people to recognize that Meagan’s Walk really is a universal message of hope – for all of our children,” Bebenek said.

Drivers were advised to avoid the roads around Sick Kids Hospital Sunday morning as the walkers were likely to impede traffic, although the roads were not closed. The one street that was closed for the event was Elizabeth Street, which leads to the hospital driveway.