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Parnell to host 6th annual fundraising run

Although Martin Parnell completed his “Quest for Kids” raising money for Right To Play at his fifth Annual Run/Walk in Cochrane last year, the sixth annual event on Dec.
Last year’s race helped Parnell exceed his $1 million fundraising goal, and he hopes to see strong participation again this year to raise money for a playground in
Last year’s race helped Parnell exceed his $1 million fundraising goal, and he hopes to see strong participation again this year to raise money for a playground in Africa.

Although Martin Parnell completed his “Quest for Kids” raising money for Right To Play at his fifth Annual Run/Walk in Cochrane last year, the sixth annual event on Dec. 31 at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre will be raising funds for another worthwhile cause.

“Last year, we ended up raising $1.3 million for the organization, and helped over 27,000 children with that big fundraising push,” he said. “This year, we’ve set a goal to raise $10,000 for a playground for the Lindsay Kimmett Kindergarten in Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania.”

Parnell is just getting back into running after being hospitalized in February with a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis – a large blood clot at the top of his brain. Initially, he said, the stroke began as a migraine. Eventually he was admitted to the hospital in Winnipeg where he had a speaking engagement and placed under a medically induced coma.

“For months,” he said, “I could do nothing. I had double vision, pressure on my optic nerve and I couldn’t drive. I was sleeping 16 hours a day and just walking.”

He started out doing just a few kilometres each day, and eventually got to the point where he could walk eight kilometres. Only two months ago, Parnell’s doctor gave him the go ahead to start running again.

“The doctor said if I’d waited one more week, if they hadn’t found it, that would have been it for me,” Parnell said. “To be honest, I didn’t have any plans to do another race on Dec. 31. This year, though, the challenge chose me and it’s been truly life-changing.”

Parnell learned about a project spearheaded by a local group to build a school in Africa. According to Parnell, students who attend the newly constructed Lindsay Kimmett Kindergarten in Tanzania have to travel 130 kilometres to get to the nearest playground – while children in Cochrane can easily access one of the town’s 29 playgrounds.

“I’ve had lots of time to think this year, and no matter what I’ve been through, there are always people and kids worse off than me,” he said.

“Anything I can do to help them, I will. These kids haven’t got much, and no matter what kind of tough time we are having in Alberta right now, there are people who are dealing with much worse.”

Registration for the event opens at 8 a.m. on Dec. 31. With a donation to support the fundraising initiative, participants have the choice of running a marathon, half-marathon, 10k, 5k or a 2k. The event will wrap up at 3 p.m., and Parnell said he hopes to see lots of people getting involved.

“I’m going to try and do the marathon, or at least see how far I can get,” Parnell said.

“We’re hoping to raise $10,000 and thanks to donations from the rotary club and some other groups, we are already up to $4,000. We still have a ways to go, but we are hopeful that we can get this playground built by early next year.”

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