“The run is for me, the money is for Son Pham”
That is what went through my mind in March 2009 as I came up with the idea to run 100km and raise money for Son. I had always wanted to push myself and do something that not everyone can do and I thought that this would be a great combination.
What led me to do this? In October 2007 I was at the Halifax Airport waiting to get on a flight to Ottawa and I saw this little guy walk by with this huge growth taking up more than half of his head and face. I felt terrible for this young man and I, like many other people, could not stop looking.
Immediately I thought of how he must feel everyday, waking up and seeing himself, wishing he could be like all of the other kids/people around him. I got on my flight and sure enough, Son Pham and his caregiver, got on the same flight and sat right next to me. As the flight continued, Son played with a toy dinosaur and I could see in his eyes that he was just like all of us when we were that age. Plus, my son Liam is approximately the same age as Son and I thought about seeing the same look in his eyes when he played with his toys. I really felt like I had to do something for him, so, not knowing what else to do, I took out my wallet and gave his caregiver $20.00 and wished them luck.
Shortly after returning from Ottawa, a story appeared in the paper regarding Son and the fact that he was an orphan from Vietnam and was in Canada to see if the growth which took up so much of his face could be removed. After visiting Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, it was decided that there was nothing that facility could do to help. Olwyn WALTER, a Halifax resident and Board member with the Children’s Bridge Foundation had been in contact with doctors in Boston and it was determined that they could do the procedures necessary to remove the majority of the growth from Son’s face. The WALTER family took Son into their home and the process had begun to change Son’s life.
It was at that point when I realized that more could be done to help. Through Casual Friday at the Halifax Detachment Integrated Court Section and donations from friends and family, a donation of $1200 was made to Mrs. WALTER and Son. The cash went directly to Son and his first purchase was a new bicycle.
Over the past year and a half, Son and his host-father, Allan WALTER have travelled back and forth to Boston where Son receives his treatments and has surgeries to remove the growth. The costs for this process, initially estimated at approximately four hundred thousand dollars, have climbed to almost one million dollars. The Children’s Bridge Foundation has raised a great deal of the funds needed and several large donations have been received from various anonymous donors.
Upon learning that the funding was approximately sixty thousand dollars short, I decided that there was more I could do to help our Vietnamese friend. With the overwhelming support of family, friends, co-workers and people from the community the wheels started turning for me to reach my goal of raising $5000 in support of my RUN for SON.
So, after approximately four months of training and fund raising, it was time to “git ‘r’ dun”. On 2009-08-01 at 0800hrs I started my RUN for SON at the RCMP Lunenburg office en route to Son’s house in Halifax, 102km away from the start. With my wife, Gwen and my sons, Liam, Ben and Luke as well as a lifetime friend, Leroy LOWE driving alongside and providing moral support, food and water, I ran a distance of 50kms on Day 1. The run between Lunenburg and Chester was generally quite flat and I felt very strong and my spirits were high for the first three hours. Chester to Hubbards was a different story. Hills were the name of the game for the remainder of my run for day one. Not only that, but the sun came out in full force for the afternoon and water became even more important to me.
Day 2 was the home stretch, and I felt great the whole time out on the road. Lots of motivation to keep things moving despite my tired body. ATV news came and did a story, my family continued their enthusiastic support and I was on a bit of a time crunch because I wanted to be at Son’s house before he left for Boston, to resume his treatments. The whole thing went off without a hitch and at Son’s house, we were met by ATV news, Son Pham and his host-father, Allan WALTER.
I had done it! Over the course of two days, I had run 102km and felt great doing it. But, even better was the feeling of satisfaction in knowing that over the course of the previous four months, we had raised over $6000 for Son Pham’s medical expenses.
Thank you to all who contributed to this worthy cause!