Bill did it; and so can we

“If Bill can do it, we can do it” were the words spoken by Deane Cunningham, chairman of the “Just Imagine” campaign, as Bill Michl set off in the darkness of Friday morning.
Joined by other runners from Rainy River, the wet snow and slick roads were not inviting. Yet Bill had a job to do.
The marathon runner was accompanied by Kim Chorney of Rainy River the whole distance to Emo. Her farthest run prior to Friday was 14 km, yet she completed 60 km before retiring for the day in Emo.
The efforts of the two runners emphasized the importance of bringing a CT scan to La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances to serve the residents of Rainy River District.
Perhaps, when almost 60 people showed up for breakfast at the Rainy River Legion shortly after 6 a.m., it began to sink in to the volunteers of the “Just Imagine” campaign that district residents really felt a huge need to have that piece of diagnostic equipment available here.
And more surprising was how quickly Rainy River responded with commitments.
As people wandered into the Emo Legion for lunch on Friday, they sought out Wendy Judson and Ted Kaemingh—two volunteers with the “Just Imagine” campaign.
The Emo Legion was the midway stop for the 100-km run of Bill Michl. It also was playing host to a soup-and-sandwich luncheon for “Just Imagine” supporters.
Those who wandered in were looking for Wendy and Ted to drop off pledge forms and cheques. The oldest to come in was centenarian Maurice MacMillan, who gave the CT fundraising committee a cheque in the amount of five times his age.
As Bill and the runners who had joined him started through Emo, the hall emptied and loud applause erupted on the street as the rain-soaked runners neared the Legion.
Once inside and warmed, Bill prepared for his next leg—the toughest leg. And then the announcement was made that already $250,000 had been raised.
There was no doubt in the west half of the district how important the CT scan is.
Before his muscles could tighten up, Bill Michl, with dry clothes, dry socks, and fresh runners, was back out the door—this time accompanied by Dan Loney heading for Fort Frances.
Keeping his pace at a steady 10 km/hour, he was going to be in the Fort by 5 p.m.
For most of the afternoon, Bill ran alone—often struggling to ward off cramps. Often his muscles almost refusing to go further, yet he persevered. It was his battle of mind over body, willing his legs to make one more step.
The runners from Fort Frances came out and met Bill, and they talked him on. As others joined, and they shared the encouragement, Bill got maybe a fourth wind, or fifth wind, his body responded, and his pace picked up.
As his body found new energy, it was obvious he would finish this gruelling run.
Throughout the day, people would be along the highway, and in the towns, applauding or honking horns as he passed by. This continued through Fort Frances and when he reached Church Street, loud clapping erupted and grew as he walked backward down the stairs to the lower level of the Legion.
His legs wouldn’t let him walk forward down the stairs.
At the foot of the stairs, he was met with an over-flow crowd of well-wishers. He had completed his run. Bill had brought awareness of the campaign and the need for a CT scanner here.
At the end of the day, pledges and cheque to the campaign reached well over $300,000.
Deane Cunningham, who had followed Bill from morning to evening in the chase truck, said it clearly: Bill has done it, now we have to do it for the CT scan.
Pledge cards for the CT scanner are available throughout the district.

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