CT scan launch tops $300,000

FORT FRANCES—Bill Michl set out to raise public awareness with a feat of physical endurance last Friday.
He managed a feat of fundraising at the same time.
Michl’s 60-mile “Run for the Scan”—the equivalent of two full marathons—was held to kick off the “Care Close to Home 2: Just Imagine” campaign to raise $1.5 million locally for a CT scanner at La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances.
The event was not dubbed a fundraiser, but rather an opportunity to make people aware of the campaign and the need for the CT scanner in Rainy River District.
Staff and volunteers with the Riverside Foundation for Health Care distributed information and pledge cards along the way.
The Foundation already had raised about $100,000 before Michl’s run. And by the end of the day Friday, more than $300,000 was pledged towards the CT scanner.
“It’s been a tremendous day, just an awesome day,” campaign chair Deane Cunningham enthused Friday. “It’s incredible, the pledges and donations.
“The whole day has been overwhelming. . . . It’s exceeded my expectations.”
Michl began his run in Rainy River, where more than 50 people rose early to attend a pancake-and-sausage breakfast hosted by the Rainy River Legion.
A silver collection at the breakfast raised $300.
That morning, the Rainy River Legion also presented a cheque to the campaign for $20,000.
Another $20,000 was donated by the Rainy River Hospital Auxiliary while a $1,000 cheque was presented by the Rainy River Legion Ladies Auxiliary.
Michl set out from Rainy River at 7 a.m. with a group of runners joining him.
One of them was Rainy River resident Kimberly Chorney, who only intended to jog a few kilometres but ended up accompanying Michl all the way to Emo—a distance of some 60 km (35 miles).
“I wasn’t planning on running this far,” Chorney said when they reached Emo around 12:45 p.m. on Friday, where a community luncheon was held at the Legion.
“I was hoping to make it to Pinewood because I had never done a marathon and didn’t want to set myself up.”
Chorney does most of her running indoors on a treadmill, which can be quite different from outdoor running, Michl noted.
Beyond testing her own physical endurance, Chorney also wanted to help raise awareness for the “Just Imagine” campaign.
“I’ve been running for three years and heard they needed some local runners,” she remarked. “I grew up in Rainy River and think it’s important to have a CT Scan close by.”
She credited her successful run to Michl’s guidance.
“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Bill made it easy.”
“It was amazing,” Michl said of Chorney’s run.
Michl and his fellow runners were followed by an ambulance, as well as a van with volunteers handing out bottles of water, energy bars, fruit, and anything else they needed along the way.
“There has been a tremendous amount of support. We’re very pleased,” said Wendy Judson of Emo, co-chair of the central district committee for the campaign.
“And this is just the kick-off, so just imagine what we can do. It’s wonderful.”
The central district committee pledged to raise $97,000 for the cause while the Emo and District Hospital Auxiliary pledged $10,000.
In Emo, Michl took time to change his clothes and shoes that were soaked from the early-morning snow, then hit the highway again.
He was joined by another small group of runners at the Northern Do-it center just west of Fort Frances—many of whom ran with him to the Legion on Church Street, where a community reception was held in Michl’s honour.
Michl completed his double marathon in eight hours, 59 minutes.
“Bill was right on time pretty much all the way through the run,” Cunningham noted.
“Bill ran a pace across the district that some marathon runners aspire to,” said Teresa Hazel, campaign director and director of the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.
“We sure appreciate what he’s done today,” Hazel told the crowd assembled at the Fort Frances Legion.
“I’m one big ache from here to there,” Michl said, pointing to his head and feet just minutes after arriving at his destination.
Over the last few kilometres, Michl said his right ankle was causing him pain, and he experienced some cramping as he crossed into Fort Frances.
It was the support of his fellow runners, as well as passing motorists, that gave him the strength to finish, he said.
“As soon as those people start honking and cheering, it gives you that adrenaline rush,” Michl noted. “I had some good guys with me that wouldn’t let me quit.”
“For Bill Michl to make that run is just incredible,” Cunningham said.
“He really struggled with the last 10 miles. We were feeling for him the whole way,” said Larry Cousineau, chair for the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.
“It was courageous what he did today.”
“Bill, you’ve motivated an entire district today,” Hazel enthused.
At the Fort Frances reception, the La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary pledged $25,000 to the CT scanner while Riverside Family, made up of Riverside employees, pledged $55,000.
Beyond the many pledges from organizations across the district, several large individual donations also were made in each of the three main communities.
“It’s a district-wide campaign, and the people of the district have been so generous,” Cunningham said.
He thanked the three district Legion branches “who were so accommodating to us,” as well as the volunteers and runners who participated.
But while the day was a great success, there is more work to do.
“We have a pretty major task ahead of us,” he said, noting they still need to raise about $1.2 million for the CT scanner.
With a new hospital in Rainy River, and the recent renovations to the hospitals in Emo and Fort Frances, a CT scanner is the next logical step.
Cunningham cited some of the high-level services offered here now, including dialysis and chemotherapy, which were not available in the past.
“The CT scan is the next step in raising the level of health care available to citizens of the Rainy River District,” Cunningham said.
—With files from staff writer Heather Ogilvie and R.R. Record editor Ken Johnston.
(Fort Frances Times)

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