Scotiabank Charity Challenge

Why I Run

By | Charity, Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

Make this year’s Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k count with the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.

By Diana Hart

Time for Vancouverites to lace up their sneakers; runners of all ages are taking part in the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k on June 24.

At Scotiabank-supported marathons across Canada, people can make their runs count by taking the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and raising money for charities helping strengthen their communities. This year, we are highlighting Scotiabank Charity Challenge participants running for charities that help build a better future for young people in their communities.

Meet Jaylene

Jaylene Prime, 11, is taking the Scotiabank Charity Challenge alongside her sisters. They are raising money for Cassie and Friends Society, a not-for-profit, which supports children with juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, and their families.

Jaylene has a rare form of juvenile arthritis called systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA). With the support of Cassie and Friends Society, Jaylene and her family were successful in their battle to gain accessto an expensive medication to treat her life-threatening illness. She was the first child in B.C. to be granted public coverage to the medication canakinumab.

Jaylene explains why she’s excited to run the Scotiabank Charity Challenge this year.


Link to original story HERE

Jaylene’s story is just one of many. Support Cassie and Friends or another Charity through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and run for a cause on June 24th.

Already registered to race? You can still fundraise, click HERE to log into your race account.

Charity Spotlight: Alzheimer Society of B.C.

By | Charity, Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon is proud to support local charities as part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, with the goal of raising over $1,000,000 annually for local charities. Each year, charities such as the Alzheimer Society of BC build fundraising teams to support their causes, with runners participating in both the half-marathon and the 5k races.

Here’s a look at some team members raising money for the Alzheimer Society of BC:


Participant Name: Bark Kong

Goal Time: Under two hours for the half-marathon

Running wisdom: “Take the first step and be patient with yourself… it’s more about the process than the finish. Don’t go out too hard. It’s not a sprint; it’s like running a marathon, well…except it’s half. There is a lot of training information available on the internet, so find a program that works for you and decide to do it!”

Why he runs: “It’s both the challenge of doing something hard and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done it.”

What’s special about the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k: “Not only is this event a way for me to use my love for running to raise funds, it lets me get to know my friends and colleagues in a new and fun way. For example, I learned that Emily (Pridham, Manager, Regional Services for Vancouver Island) is really competitive – almost as much as I am.”

Bark is the veteran runner on the team. With six full marathons and eight half-marathons under his hydration belt, he’s more than ready to take on the mental challenge of 21.1 kilometres alone with his thoughts – with the help of a healthy cheering section on race day. This is the third consecutive Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k that he’ll tackle with the help of high-altitude, trail and road training and some intense metal in his headphones. Still smarting from a devastating loss last year to his worthy competitor, Emily Pridham, he has a new training program that is driven by the raw desire to come out ahead of his much younger colleagues. To show Bark your support, visit his fundraising page.


Participant Name: Emily Pridham

Goal Time: Under two hours for the half-marathon… and to beat Bark!

Message to other new runners: “Don’t be scared to try something uncomfortable. Ease in gently and set goals.”

What she learned about herself at her first Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k in 2017: “I was surprised by how into the fundraising I got. I got competitive because I saw [my teammates’] totals going up and I didn’t want to be left in the dust!” (Emily started her fundraising with tentative social media posts and ended up enthusiastically knocking on her neighbours’ doors.)

Emily is an avid cyclist, but until last year, she had never run more than 10k. A month before the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k, she was inspired by Bark and Theresa Frazao – who was also planning to run her first half-marathon for the Society – and she joined the team. The combination of her love for physical and leadership challenges, the healthy competition with her colleagues and the opportunity to embody the philanthropic spirit of the Society was enough to drive Emily to the finish line with little preparation. At the end of her dramatic debut, Emily beat Bark to the finish line by a minute. Complicating her win, however, shortly after the race, Bark learned he had been running with appendicitis. Now he’s back to full strength and ready for his re-match. Emily, with a year of running behind her, isn’t about to hand the top spot over to Bark – or the latest contender to join the office road race. To show your support for Emily, visit her fundraising page.


Participant Name: Allison Baker (aka, The Mystery Runner)

Goal Time: 1:45 for the half-marathon

Where she runs: Along the beach in Tsawwassen.

Why join the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k? “To be a part of a team. Running can be a very lonely sport. I’m excited to do it with a team because I’m extra competitive and I’m usually just competing with myself.”

Message to her teammates: “Bring it on!”

Earlier this year, when the Society team began to take shape at the provincial office, Allison threw her hat in the ring for the half-marathon – without revealing her identity to her teammates. At first, The Mystery Runner in the office sparked intrigue. Now that the secret’s out, so is the truth about Allison’s running resume. She has completed two full marathons and is now training for her third. Allison initially took up running at the age of 14 to impress her hockey coach and later fell in love with the endorphins she found pounding the pavement to her pop favourites. Will the ‘90s nostalgia of the Spice Girls and ‘N Sync propel her to the finish line before her colleagues? That part’s still a mystery. To show your support for Allison, visit her fundraising page.


Participant Name: Theresa Frazao

Goal: “To run a strong 5k in June and use these beautiful spring months to get outside and run again.”

Why she runs: “I love the endorphins and doing what I can to be fit and strong. I also love how meditative it is. It’s really hard to think about your problems when you are running.”

Run tunes: Fast, energetic pop songs to keep up her pace.

Last year Theresa completed her first half-marathon on the Society team. This year, she’ll be returning to the 5k distance and joining thousands of other runners and walkers on the shorter course. To all the less-competitive runners out there, Theresa has this to say: “5k is the perfect distance to participate in an event like this because you can run, you can walk or you can do a combination of the two. And you can recruit some friends to come out for the morning and walk or run with you! The crowds, the entertainment, the cheerleaders and the charity village all add to a great festival environment and you’ll have a blast while doing some good for the Alzheimer Society of B.C.” To show Theresa your support, visit her fundraising page.

What can proper coaching do for you?

By | Eastside 10k, Edmonton 10k, Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half, Training Tips | No Comments

In a world where everything is available right at your fingertips, it seems normal to consult the internet for a training plan to prepare for an upcoming race.  However, these programs are cookie cutter methods based on norms that don’t take into consideration the uniqueness of the individuals that use them.  So what does proper coaching offer that a run-of-the-mill program doesn’t?

“With proper coaching, an athlete just might discover the best version of themselves, or they might start to let go of all those heavy expectations that they carry around. And through this process they will learn more about themselves. Proper coaching allows an athlete to make clear choices and carve out a path to where they want to go. Proper coaching builds the bridge between who the athlete is today, and who they will be. Proper coaching filters and flows into every area of an athlete’s life so that all of the practicing, resting, recovering, training, racing, and dreaming is purposeful. With proper coaching, we grow and get better.” – Kate Gustafson, Mile2Marathon Coaching.

Not only do coaches provide one-on-one coaching, they usually form a group of athletes that can train together.  This not only ensures that the athletes are provided guidance, but they’re also supplied with a team that gives a team-like dynamic in a very solo sport.  This community supports, pushes, and enhances those who are involved.

The words of Coach Kate from Mile2Marathon in Vancouver eloquently explains the benefit of having a coach that can guide an athlete on their running journey.  Having someone understand the ebbs and flows of the athlete’s life, commitments, vices, and dreams is crucial.  Accountability to a coach, to one’s own goals, and to the betterment of one’s skills, is something that a generalized program from the internet won’t offer.  A coach can help make the solitude of training become a camaraderie, through the rapport a coach-athlete relationship cultivates.

Scotiabank Charity Challenge helps Charities take Giant Steps in Fundraising

By | Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | No Comments

By: Amy Friel

When Giant Steps Toronto took to the streets more than ten years ago as part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, the prospect of raising more than a million dollars towards their cause was little more than a pipe dream.

Founded in 1995, the York Region-based school and therapy centre offers an integrated program of academics along with speech, behavioural, and occupational therapies for elementary school students with autism. Amidst the hundreds of official charities who participate in the Charity Challenge each year, they’re a comparatively modest operation – but their more than ten years of participation in the event has had a decidedly significant impact.

“In the beginning, it was just kind of a group of parents of kids with autism,” recalls Joanne Scott-Jackson, the Director of Development for Giant Steps Toronto. “But we got really enthusiastic, and we raised $20,000 that first year.”

Since their Charity Challenge debut in 2004, Giant Steps Toronto has raised more than $1.1 million in funding for their programs. They’re the smallest charity by far to make it into the Charity Challenge’s “Million Dollar Fundraising Club”. For a local organization with limited resources, it’s a fundraising opportunity that could never have been possible without the marathon’s help.

“Events are kind of risky prospects for many charities, particularly small ones who have limited resources,” Scott-Jackson explains. “You have to have a lot of skill to pull these events together; they’re risky, they’re time-consuming, and they can be costly as well. So for a small charity like us to be able to piggyback onto such an established, world-renowned fundraising and athletic event, the opportunity is very unique.”

For more than 550 official charities who participate annually in six community road races across Canada, the Scotiabank Charity Challenge offers the opportunity for a large-scale fundraising event that’s both low-cost and low-risk, allowing organizations to invest their resources into fundraising rather than logistics. For Giant Steps Toronto, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has become their largest annual fundraising event, accounting for about 20% of their yearly fundraising dollars.

And while impressive, their success story is far from unique.

“Since we launched the Scotiabank Charity Challenge in 2003, runners in six community races across the country have collectively raised more than $50 million for community charities,” says Kyle McNamara, Scotiabank’s Executive Vice-President, Global Retail Banking Technology.

To help charities maximize their dollars raised, Scotiabank covers the cost of transaction fees, and offers additional team awards and incentives, complete with cash prizes, to those participating in the Charity Challenge.

“Scotiabank believes in giving back to the communities where we live and work,” says McNamara, an avid runner himself. “The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is more than a great running event – through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, the race raises money for local charities that help to create a stronger future for young people and build vibrant communities.”

For Joanne Scott-Jackson, the event has become a true community celebration, drawing together a diverse collection of individuals who have a deep personal connection to her organization and its work.

“A lot of people who run or walk with us are parents of kids with autism, or family members, or friends, or staff,” she says. “A lot of them have very intimate connections with our charity, and very direct connections with the kids who are benefiting from our program.”

Ever the enthusiastic bunch, Giant Steps Toronto fielded a team of 139 participants in last year’s race – the charity with the largest amount of fundraising participants in the 2016 Charity Challenge, for which they were awarded an additional $6,000 towards their fundraising campaign. The award was the latest in what has become a strong tradition of excellence for the Giant Steps Toronto team, which has now taken home fundraising  prizes nine times over their twelve years participating.

For Race Director Alan Brookes, the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is a particular point of pride, one that embodies the spirit of Toronto’s marquee marathon weekend. At once a celebration of individual endeavour and community engagement, it allows athletes of all abilities to unite in support of the causes closest to their hearts.

“This is always an exciting time – the beginning of training and fundraising for Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Charity Challenge,” says Brookes. “We all share so many hopes and dreams. Very best wishes to everyone on our road to October 22nd. There, we will come together, with one goal: to make our community a better place, and celebrate your achievements. Let’s do this together!”

Runners interested in making their steps (both giant and otherwise) count this fall are invited to register for the race and sign up for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge:

Why Runners Participate in Event Fundraising

By | Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

The Scotiabank Charity Challenge supports over 80 different charities each year through the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon & 5k. Each charity has a unique story and background for how they were founded and came to be a part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. The Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation is just one of these stories and they have been a huge part of this event for many years as they fundraise for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), largely in part to the Van Marrewyk family.

The Van Marrewyk family experienced incredible care for almost two months at the Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) NICU after the birth of their triplet daughters. Their appreciation led to the establishment of an annual 5k Christmas-time walkathon for friends and family in support of the NICU at RCH that raised over $110,000. Wanting to further their fundraising efforts, the Van Marrewyk’s and the RCH Foundation saw the advantage of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and decided to take part. The RCH Foundation has raised over $125,000 since 2013 with the focus being on supporting neonatal care.

Making every step count is more than just participating in the event. The Charity Challenge program allows participants to run for the sake of others. Runners and walkers are given a unique opportunity to band together and fundraise for local charities of personal significance, creating a more meaningful race experience. The social aspect of a race is greatly enhanced with the camaraderie between friends, family, coworkers, and like-minded people as they work towards supporting their chosen charity. Helping the greater good is incredibly motivating, especially when individuals set personal goals for both their own race and their fundraising targets through their support both physically and financially.

In the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank covers all of the fees associated with online fundraising, allowing 100% of the funds that have been raised to go directly to the charity of your choice. Over $50 million has been raised nationally through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge from thousands of people running or walking in honour of loved ones, or to simply raise awareness and give back to their community.

No matter what distance you take part in or what amount you raise, your contribution makes every step count for charities in our community.

To take part in the Charity Challenge, sign up as part of a charity team when you register for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5k today! A list of current charities is available here with more being added every week.

Scotiabank Charity Challenge raises over $50 million for local Canadian communities

By | Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal et 5k, Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments

Runners at 6 marathons across the country set the pace for giving back to the community

TORONTO, ON – (Marketwired – June 24, 2016)

Since 2003, participants at six Scotiabank-sponsored road races from coast to coast have made every step of their run count, raising more than $50 million for local charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. This turnkey fundraising program surpassed the $50 million mark thanks to continued efforts from races in Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary so far this year, and in the lead-up to the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon and 5k this weekend.

06-28-16-charitychallenge1200x900The Scotiabank Charity Challenge launched in 2003 at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as a way for runners to fundraise to support local charities. Every dollar raised goes directly to the charities. Scotiabank pays for all transaction fees, credit card fees and the cost of the fundraising platform.

Scotiabank proudly hosts a Scotiabank Charity Challenge at each of six sponsored race events across Canada each year including:

For links to Scotiabank’s races and the charities supported by runners at each one, please visit the Scotiabank Marathons’ page.

“On behalf of all of my colleagues at Scotiabank, I want to congratulate all participants who have run in the Scotiabank road races since 2003 and made every step count by signing up for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge,” said Kyle McNamara, Executive Vice President and Co-Head Information Technology, Business Systems, and Executive Champion for Marathons at Scotiabank. “We encourage everyone to keep the fundraising going, and to work together to support local charities that have a significant impact on Canadian communities.”

“We launched the Scotiabank Charity Challenge in response to runners who told us that they wanted to make their race more meaningful,” said Jacquie Ryan, Vice President, Sponsorships at Scotiabank. “It has been an honour to witness the commitment and dedication of all participants – both on the course and off – as we have grown this fundraising program together.”

About Scotiabank
Through our global community investment strategy, Scotiabank and its employees support causes at a grassroots level. Recognized as a leader for our charitable donations and philanthropic activities, in 2015, Scotiabank contributed $67 million to help our communities around the world.

Scotiabank is Canada’s international bank and a leading financial services provider in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central America, and Asia-Pacific. We are dedicated to helping our 23 million customers become better off through a broad range of advice, products and services, including personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate and investment banking, and capital markets. With a team of more than 89,000 employees and assets of $895 billion (as at April 30, 2016), Scotiabank trades on the Toronto (TSX: BNS) and New York Exchanges (NYSE: BNS). Scotiabank distributes the Bank’s media releases using Marketwired. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @ScotiabankViews.

Mehrnoush’s Challenge

By | Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments
May 23, 2016 – Vancouver, BC

“I had never met anyone with cerebral palsy, so when I came here [I was] so surprised, many people [are] like me,” Mehrnoush Izadi admitted over coffee at a café in the United Kingdom building, where the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC’s office is currently situated. Born in Dubai, Mehrnoush immigrated to Canada in 2011 with one of her brothers. It was very hard for Mehrnoush to adjust to her new life in Canada as “everything was so new.” After two years of living with her brother in a basement suite, her parents joined her in 2013. She eventually became accustomed to aspects of Canadian culture, including seeing other people with disabilities in the Lower Mainland, an emphasis on leaving the family home after the age of 18, and the number of dogs and dog parks – this is especially delightful since her family has adopted a dog named Felix.

One day last year Mehrnoush happened to come across website for the Cerebral Palsy Association online when she was searching for volunteering opportunities. She wrote down the address and visited the downtown office. She was pleasantly surprised to discover that Feri, the Association’s executive director, also spoke Farsi. Not only could Mehrnoush comfortably speak with Feri but Feri could also answer Mehrnoush’s parents’ questions and concerns.

Mehrnoush began helping Feri with mailing, accounting, deposits, and petty cash reconciliation. In the fall of 2014, she started the Accounting program at Douglas College. The financial burden of studying was offset by a $500 Tanabe bursary, one of the numerous bursaries the Cerebral Palsy Association makes available to its members over the years. Mehrnoush has become a well-rounded member of the association has participated in the yoga, dance, and the Association’s first ever pre-employment program in addition to volunteering her time to help support a Meat draw fundraiser in Chilliwack, the CPABC’s annual Gala, a Community Connections event on the North Shore, and the Healthy Eating-Healthy Life program, a monthly community kitchen event.

This past year has been an important year for Mehrnoush. The bursary funds and her academic pursuits have helped those around her see what she is capable of. She hopes to develop her accounting skill set more, frequenting the office 3 days a week instead of 1 day a week in the future. Her involvement at the Cerebral Palsy Association has helped her reach and realize both her personal and professional goals.

Last year Mehrnoush raised over $300 and walked the 5km route on behalf of the Cerebral Palsy Association for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. The 2014 challenge was a first for both the CPABC and Mehrnoush – it was the first year the CPABC took part in the event, where all funds raised go directly back to participating charities – and it was the first major mixed abilities fundraiser Mehrnoush and her family had seen. Her family was amazed by the diverse participants and the scale of the event. She is so excited to be a part of the Scotiabank Charity Challenge for a second year in a row. This year, Mehrnoush and her family plan on walking together, “although I think my dad would win if he tried,” she jokes.

Learn more about the Cerebral Palsy Association and the Scotiabank Charity Challenge!

On Being a Scotiabank Half Digital Champion

By | Digital Champions, Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Vancouver Half | No Comments
by Digital Champion Bradley Cuzen

When I did my very first Scotiabank race back in 2009, it was a 5K. It seems that the race wasn’t chip timed, so I have no idea how long it took me to finish. What I can remember – vaguely – is that it was a struggle. It was one of my first races ever. Fast forward to 2016, and I am proud and honoured to be a Scotiabank Half Digital Champion!

And what exactly is that, a Digital Champion? Well, we are a diverse bunch of runners – different ages, who run different speeds, at different stages in our running journey. But what we have in common is our love for the sport, and our enthusiasm for the Scotiabank Half and what it represents and means to us.

You can meet all of the Digital Champions – and Pacers – by dropping by the Canada Running Series West website here. Debra Kato and I especially look forward to representing this event with enthusiasm!

Charity Challenge

One of the things that makes the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon & 5K a truly special event is the emphasis on fundraising for charity. Every year there are a number of featured charities, plus a list of over 70 charitable partners to fundraise on behalf of. Fundraising can be as much or as little as you want, either as an individual or as part of a team. And while the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is an awesome component of the weekend, it’s not an obligation – but for me it holds great value.

I had intended to sign up for the Scotiabank Half in 2012 – and actually believed I had – but discovered just days before the race that I hadn’t registered. I took it as a sign and gave it a miss.

In 2013, I was on the ball early and signed up in January for the Canada Running Series Combo – the Vancouver Spring Run-Off 8K (now the Modo 8K), the Scotiabank Half, and the Eastside 10K. At that point, the thought of fundraising hadn’t yet entered my mind.

BC Cancer Foundation

Late in March of 2013, life threw us a curveball. My mom ended up in hospital with a number of medical issues, and we soon learned that she had cancer. It would turn out to be late stage pancreatic cancer, one of the cancers with the lowest survival rates. Because it often goes undetected until it has spread, it is largely incurable. This turned out to be the case for my mom. I headed back to Ontario to spend time with her and my dad, but two weeks later on April 19, she passed away quietly in hospice.

We spent the next couple of weeks putting affairs in order, planning the funeral, saying goodbye. And then it was back to the real world. I felt helpless, a bit lost, angry and exhausted. Then I decided that the only thing I could do was try and do something positive – and that where the Scotiabank Half came into play.

BC Cancer FoundationDeciding to fundraise on behalf of the BC Cancer Foundation, I wanted to honour my mom’s memory. I committed to raising money to fight cancer – and to help fund the research that is still desperately needed.

That commitment has continued – in 2014 and 2015 – and I’m doing it again this year. My goal is to raise $3,000 and bring my lifetime fundraising total to over $12,000. You can visit my fundraising page here:

So no matter what your motivation – to run your first half marathon, to join a team, to fundraise for a charity that is dear to your heart – the Scotiabank Half & 5K is a race worth running! Want to sign up? Visit the website here.

Mary Alice Cuzen 1934-2013

Superheroes Lead Fundraising at Scotiabank Charity Challenge. By Paul Gains

By | Scotiabank Charity Challenge, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | No Comments

TORONTO April 11th 2016. Spectators lining this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon course will not only experience the thrill of seeing world class runners compete for prize money in this IAAF Gold Label race, but also a group of costumed runners dressed as their favourite superheroes.

Batman, Superman and Thor may not be as fast as those chasing course records, but they run with passion and with a grand objective in mind – to raise awareness and to fundraise for local charities.

For more than 180 official charities, the 2016 Scotiabank Charity Challenge will provide much needed fundraising and awareness opportunities. This is an enormous source of pride for Kyle McNamara, Scotiabank’s Executive Vice President and co-head, Information Technology and Business Systems, who is himself an avid runner.

“Scotiabank believes in giving back to the communities where we live and work. We started the Scotiabank Charity Challenge in 2003 to help charities meet ambitious fundraising goals while giving runners the opportunity to race for causes close to their hearts,” says McNamara.

“Since we launched the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, runners in six community races across the country have collectively raised over $46 million for charities nationally and in 2016, together, we aim to surpass the $50 million fundraising milestone. We want to thank everyone for their fundraising efforts.”

Scotiabank hosts a Charity Challenge at each of their six marathon events in Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Each race profiles 3 featured charities. In 2016, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon’s featured charities are Asperger’s Society of Ontario, Epilepsy Halton Peel Hamilton and Oolagen Youth Mental Health.

This year ‘Batman versus Superman’ comes to the streets of Toronto as the now familiar and growing group of Justice League Runners will be among the thousands raising money for hundreds of causes.  A year ago it was Toronto’s Sick Kids Foundation who was the beneficiary. This year it will be Oolagen Youth Mental Health, a Toronto children’s mental health charity.

JP Hernandez aka The Dark Knight Runner at STWM 2015. Photo Credit: Tribe Fitness

“As someone who was bullied in Grade 9, I reached out to superheroes to find hope or courage,” says JP Hernandez, also known as ‘The Dark Knight.’ “I know people who have gone through that and they have found different avenues. It can be either tragic or an opportunity to do something positive.

“I have always been a comic fan; I kind of knew that superheroes stand up for those who can’t. I can see why some kids identify with that and I felt it was a great time to switch to something more personal. And that’s why we chose Oolagen. I was looking for any charity that typically dealt with or helped with children dealing with this.”

Hernandez who runs up to 75 kilometres a week, originally met his colleagues on social media. Some would attend training sessions with him.  Others he met for the first time in person just before the start of last year’s marathon.

“I will soon be putting out the call on our Facebook page recruiting new members asking if anybody wants to join us,” he adds. “The interest has grown. We had two teams last year at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. One ran the half marathon as well as the four of us that were the full marathon team.”

cy_stwm15 100

Captain Epilepsy at STWM 2015

While the Justice League group dress in recognizable, and, not so comfortable costumes, David Charchalis has created his own super hero in order to draw attention and raise money for Epilepsy Halton Peel Hamilton where he works.

Inspired by the glamour and colour he experienced at the Caribbean Carnival, his alter ego has become Captain Epilepsy, a figure he hopes will empower people with epilepsy. The condition afflicts one in a hundred Canadians. Other than an annual Gala event, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon offers the largest fundraising opportunity for this charity. Charchalis plans to walk the 5km in costume and, along with a team of dozens, he plans to raise more than $25,000 this year.

“It’s extremely important,” Charchalis declares. “The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is a great way to raise money for our Sunny Days Kids’ Camp. It really helps us keep all of our programs free for our clients. It’s also a great way to get awareness and the name out there. We have a great time doing it.”


Aspergers Society of Ontario at STWM 2015

Though their fundraisers will be slightly less flamboyant, another charity that is celebrating its tenth year with the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is the Aspergers Society of Ontario. At the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon they raised more than $25,000. They hope to double that figure this year.

For their executive director, Alexandra Prefasi, involvement with the Scotiabank Charity Challenge is the most effective opportunity they can imagine.

“We are a small volunteer driven organization and we can’t run large scale campaigns like some of the larger Canadian charities do,” she says. “We just don’t have that kind of a profile. So events like this afford us the opportunity to, yes, raise funds for the society but also to raise our profile in communities like Toronto. We are able to talk about Aspergers and shine a light on our cause.”

Prefasi proudly claims a 100 per cent participation rate amongst staff and board members all of whom have personal experience with Aspergers, a form of autism. Prefasi’s daughter has Aspergers.

“Our staff and board of directors are all committed to our success in the marathon,” she explains. “So pretty much everyone participated in last year’s Scotiabank Charity Challenge in some way with our campaign from recruitment to fundraising and from promotion to actually walking and running with us.

“We bring together individuals from our community. That’s one of the things that’s pretty special. We have runners and walkers who can overcome the unique challenges of Aspergers Syndrome to participate in this kind of fundraising event for us.”

Runners don’t have to be superheroes to fundraise. Anyone looking to participate can register for the race and sign up for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge here. Participants are also invited to share their stories on social media using the hashtags #runScotia and #STWM.


For more information and to register for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half Marathon & 5k:

To join Asperger’s Society of Ontario, Epilepsy Halton Peel Hamilton, Oolagen Youth Mental Health or any of the other charities in the Charity Challenge: