WESTVILLE – Melissa Castonguay knows the heartbreak of breast cancer.
Melissa Castonguay, one of the run directors for New Glasgow’s First CIBC Run for the Cure event, is honoured and excited to be leading the run this year. Castonguay and Paul Atta are co-ordinating the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation event to take place at the Pictou County Wellness Centre this Sunday at 10 a.m., with opening ceremonies starting at 9:15 a.m. and run day registration opening at 8 a.m. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS
The New Glasgow native’s great-aunt Eunice (Smiley) Gaskell and great-grandmother Muriel Smiley were both diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We formed Smiley Connection Team for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Halifax back in 2001,” Castonguay said.
She remembers as breast cancer took its toll on Eunice, though she defiantly participated in the run up until 2004.
“My great-aunt was in a wheelchair for the run but got up and walked across the finish line.”
She passed away just a few weeks after the run. Since then, Castonguay has continued to run in memory of Eunice and in celebration of Muriel, a 42-year survivor of breast cancer.
It’s this dedication and support of the run that caught the eye of national organizers of the Run for the Cure. This year, they asked Castonguay and Paul Atta to organize and lead the first Run for the Cure in New Glasgow. She said she was surprised to get the call.
“Frankly, it’s an honour. I’m so thrilled to be a part of this first run.”
She notes the New Glasgow run currently has approximately 200 registered participants including 16 registered teams and just over $10,000 already raised as of Sept. 30.
“Our first goal is to make it happen and get it going,” said Atta. “We also want to involve the community and build upon that each year.”
The run will be held at the Pictou County Wellness Centre this Sunday at 10 a.m., with opening ceremonies starting at 9:15 a.m. and run day registration opening at 8 a.m.
Castonguay never thought that when she moved here in 2006 that she’d be heading up a run in New Glasgow. In this final week, it’s become a labour of love.
“At this point, I’m putting in about 20 to 30 hours a week,” she said. “It’s the passion and drive that keeps me going. There’s a lot of emotions for survivors and those who’ve lost someone close.”
Atta said this first run would be crucial to the success of future runs.
“We’ve got some big shoes to fill but it’s well worth the efforts to try and find a cure.”
There are three options for those interested in participating. Application forms can be: filled out and picked up at the CIBC branch; printed from their website and given to staff at early registration; or filled out and submitted online.
Early registration will take place on Friday from 5:50 to 8:30 p.m. at the meeting room adjacent to the YMCA desk at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
The participation fee is $40 and participants receive a T-shirt and run kit at registration.
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn