TORONTO, Ont. – An estimated 4,000 participants took part in the 11th annual Meagan’s Walk Saturday, walking to raise money and awareness for paediatric brain-tumour research.
The walk celebrates the life of Meagan Bebenek, a young brain cancer victim who won the heart of Canadians in 2001.
While Meagan passed away from her brain tumour at the age of five, her parents say the event, which takes place every Mother’s Day weekend, is about helping other children and their families.
“The circle continues to grow because people realize that every child has a place in that circle, and when we put our minds and hearts to action I believe nothing is impossible,” said Denise Bebenek.
The route, which was via sidewalks only, took walkers from Ontario Place to Sick Kids Hospital, where the group linked arms and embraced the hospital in a giant human hug.
“When we lost her unfortunately, I knew there were way too many children that needed us to stand by them and support them,” Bebenek said.
While all the walkers are taking part for different reasons, they share a common goal of hoping to eliminate childhood brain cancer.
For Kate and her son Hugh, diagnosed with cancer last year, the walk couldn’t mean more.
“In fact the day the doctor told us we had brain cancer, the team was downstairs hugging the hospital so it’s a very memorable day for us, but we are happy to say, three brain surgeries, radiation and chemo later, we’re on a great road now,” Kate said.
For another mother, it’s all about carrying on the spirit.
“It was just about six weeks after he was diagnosed and had his surgery, he saw the sign for Meagan’s Walk and he just had to do it,” said Heather, participating in the walk wearing a T-shirt with an image of her son.
“He passed away in 2006, after that we formed our team Freckles ‘N Fudgee-Os,” Heather added.
Meagan’s Walk has raised more than $2.4 million over the past decade.
Organizers hoped to raise $350,000 this year.
Formation Area Ontario Place
Starts at east parking lot at 8:30 a.m.
Eastbound Lakeshore Blvd. – south sidewalk
North/eastbound Fort York Blvd. – west and north sidewalk only
Northbound Bathurst St. – west sidewalk only
Eastbound King St. – north sidewalk only
Northbound University Ave. – east sidewalk only
Eastbound Elm St. – south sidewalk only
Arrive at the Hospital for Sick Children