Manitoba man on last leg of 10-month run

Peggy Revell

It was on the last leg of a 10-month journey that Manitoba youth Cole Choken arrived in Rainy River District last week as part of a marathon to raise money in the fight against cancer.
Choken began his run Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and from there made his way north, running along the east coast of the United States and now westwards in Canada.
“It’s been real challenging at times,” Choken admitted during a stop at Rainy River First Nations last Friday before continuing on to Kenora.
He plans to arrive back home in Winnipeg on Oct. 2.
The 24-year-old, originally from Lake Manitoba First Nation, has been running 30-40 km a day.
Choken first began his fundraising through runs back in 2006—raising funds for diabetes since many friends and family members had succumbed to the disease.
It also stems from a vision he had one night of an old man with a beard running down the highway, motioning to Cole and saying, “Come, come run with me.”
Choken has completed three runs since then, raising funds for the Canadian Diabetes Association.
But with the death of his great-grandfather, and other family and friends, from cancer, Choken decided this time around his fundraising would be to help fight that scourge.
Travelling alongside Choken on his journey has been his mother, Brenda. While she sometimes drives the truck and camper van which they have been living out of for the journey, the 45-year-old often joins him in running.
“I like to run behind Cole—sometimes even run beside Cole just to keep him company because it gets pretty lonely out there,” she noted, adding it’s also hard to see her son run so much and the injuries, blisters, and pain he goes through because of it.
But she also runs with him so she, too, can stay in shape and healthy since diabetes and other illnesses are genetic and she wants to take care of herself.
They have been keeping in touch with family, friends, and followers of their trip through Choken’s website (www.colechokencancerrun.com) or the run’s Facebook page
“We update [the website] as much as possible,” Brenda said.
“On the road, it’s very hard because we don’t have the Internet 24/7,” she noted. “So we try to update it as much as possible.”
Along the way, they also are collecting interviews, photos, and videos of cancer patients, survivors, and those who have been affected by the disease to share with others, and in some ways also be a healing process for many.
“Because a lot of times when you’re sick, you can feel alone. Nobody can really understand what you’re going through,” she reasoned.
“And seeing these [videos], and seeing the emotion of these videos, can really bring people together—so they don’t feel so alone.”
Choken, meanwhile, said the memory of Terry Fox has been an inspiration for him on his run.
“This woman gave me a poster that Terry Fox gave out 30 years ago,” he recalled about one stop along his way.
He also had the opportunity, at a function outside of Toronto, to sign a Terry Fox running shoe that Fox had worn, which will be put in a time capsule to be opened in 2060.
“I never thought I’d be someone to look up to,” admitted Choken, referring to how he himself has become a role model for other youth in following their dreams.
“None of my friends thought I could do something like this, but anything’s possible.”
“And everybody has a gift here on Earth, besides working nine to five,” added his mom.
“And it’s nice to see Cole and young people following their visions.”
To make this run possible, Choken worked double shifts at the Olive Garden to save up enough money.
Since arriving back in Canada, Choken has raised $5,000 so far. Unfortunately, they did not raise as much while travelling through the United States, probably due to the recession, Brenda reasoned.
They have been asking people to make direct donations either to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org) or Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation (www.cancercare.mb.ca), and also asked people to check out both Cole’s website and Facebook page on the run for more information.
For Choken, however, “home is on the road,” he explained, saying he’s gotten used to running and that it will be hard to settle in back home after being on the road for so long.
Arriving in Winnipeg on Oct. 2, there also will be a concert from 3-8 p.m. at the Pantages Playhouse to wrap up the run that so far has slated performers like Crystal Shawanda, Star Nayea, Norman Chief Memorial Dancers, Red Power Squad, Yvonne St. Germaine, and Trenata Bowden, with movie star Adam Beach as a special guest.