Cochranites will see vibrant reds, yellows and oranges this fall, but it won’t be on the trees and shrubs it will be splattered on running enthusiasts.
The Vaughn Sawchuk Foundation will be hosting the town’s first colour run on Sept. 3 to raise money for the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and Little Heart Heroes. The latter supports camps for children with congenital heart defects.
Non-traditional runs have gained momentum in recent years, to the point that in 2013 Forbes Magazine reported more competitive runners were attending events such as colour runs than they were traditional runs.
Jaime and Greg Sawchuk, founders of the foundation, are hoping that popularity will translate into a good showing of support for the memorial run.
“People already run around town – why not for a great cause,” Greg said.
Runners of all abilities are invited to Mitford Park to participate in the event with one, five and 10 kilometre distances.
The pair started the foundation in memory of their son, Vaughn, who died at 28 days old in 2014.
“It has been an outlet for healing, when he passed it gave us a different perspective,” said Jaime.
“Our whole world was upside down and we thought, ‘why wouldn’t we want to give back.’ When we thought about it we couldn’t think of a reason why not to do it,” Vaughn’s father, Greg Sawchuk said.
At 19-weeks in the womb, Vaughn was diagnosed with a rare heart disease, Ebstein’s anomaly, that influences the anatomical construction and functionality of the heart. Born at 35 weeks at 6 lbs 7 oz and 20 inches long, Vaughn had four surgeries in six days, and after four weeks and a total of seven surgeries, his little body began to shut down due to complications.
The doctors advised Greg and Jaime that there would have been no way an adult could have withstood all of the procedures Vaughn went through in such a short amount of time. The family then made the “heartbreaking decision” to let their son go.
“For almost a month of admiration and doing everything possible, at the end of his 28th day we embraced Vaughn in our arms and with some previous words and softly spoken promises we watched in awe as our son Vaughn became an angel,” the family wrote on the Foundation’s website.
In an effort to support other families with children affected by heart disease, the Vaugn’s started the foundation with the mission to raise funds for heart disease organizations.
In 2016, through two Paint Nights and other donations, the husband and wife duo were able to raise $11,000 for the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, where the family stayed during the month Vaughn was alive.
“It opened our eyes to an unimaginable way of life,” Jaime said.
Jaime’s husband Greg echoed her statements noting that they were “floored” with how many people helped them during that month.
Now, in addition to the funds given to the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, the family has also been raising money for Little Heart Heroes. They also started a monthly lunch program at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
“Sometimes you have to remind parents just to eat and if we can be that support then great,” Jaime said.
Early bird registration for the colour run is open until June 1, when regular pricing will come into effect.
For more information about the foundation and upcoming Memorial Colour Run go to vaughnsawchukfoundation.com.