Church cheers on runners

Members of Christ Church, Deer Park cheer on runners in the Sporting Life 10K Run as they pass the church on Yonge Street in Toronto on May 8.
 on June 1, 2016
Michael Hudson

What does a church community do when a busy race route runs past the front door every year? For the parish of Christ Church, Deer Park (CCDP), the answer was clear: get out and cheer on the runners. On Sunday, May 8, some 27,000 participants stampeded down Yonge Street in the annual Sporting Life 10K run. Walkers, runners and joggers gave their best effort to raise funds to give children with cancer an opportunity to attend summer camp. As the racers made their way up the crest of the hill at Heath Street, they were greeted by an enthusiastic bunch of supporters in front of the church clapping, cheering and offering high-fives and shouts of encouragement.

For the second year in a row, Barbara Johnston led the parish to organize and host the “Heath Street Cheer Station” to show support for the racers, the charity and the community. “As a Yonge Street church, it’s part of our neighbourhood. And with all the runners, walkers, and Fitbit enthusiasts in our congregation, it’s a natural fit.” In addition to setting up the cheer station, CCDP was proud to enter a team of runners for the event. Among them were the Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson, incumbent, and Abdi Alkadri, the head of a family of Syrian refugees sponsored by CCDP who arrived in Toronto earlier this year. Mr. Alkadri’s wife and daughter were at the cheer station to join the parishioners and volunteers in cheering on the racers.

Radio station 102.1 The Edge came out to set the beat for the morning, with a music tent, prizes and games, while members from CCDP added snacks, coffee and spirit. The cheer station was filled with members from the congregation, the choir and even the Sunday School. But one member of the cheer station was especially memorable. Cee-Cee the church mouse made his appearance once again, dancing and cheering, offering hugs and hi-fives and posing for pictures with runners of all ages.

Canon Robertson was able to get a first-hand appreciation of the impact of the cheering section in front of the church. His verdict was decisive: “We had the best cheer section between the start line and the finish line.” He noted the responses of the racers around him. “It was great to hear my fellow runners as we went by the church. They were both surprised and motivated by the enthusiastic encouragement and high-fives from the CCDP front lawn.”

Canon Robertson himself demonstrated that Sunday morning community activities are not necessarily an alternative to church but can be an addition to it. He managed to finish the race and be back in time for the 10 a.m. service.

Submitted by Jill Macrae.


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