Runners, walkers, and families came out to the Fredericton International Airport this past weekend to enjoy special access behind-the-scenes, and along the way raised $28,000 for mental health initiatives in New Brunswick.
For the third year in a row, the Fredericton International Airport (YFC) opened up its runways for the YFC Runway Run in support of mental health. The 5k race was opened to 400 runners this year and once again sold out well in advance of race day. Runners got the chance to take off on YFC’s runways, which were temporarily closed to air traffic, making for a memorable and unique race.
With local running club Capital City Road Runners taking the lead on the race organization, this race attracts runners of all abilities: from the winners Kumaran Thillainadarajah and Rachel Hopper, who blazed through the course in just over 20 minutes, to Celeste Tahan, who completed the course despite an injured foot and, together with her husband Ahmet, was the final participant to cross the finish line earning the race’s Perseverance Award.
Corena Walby, YFC Runway Run Race Director, presents Celeste and Ahmet Tahan with the Perseverance Award.
Corena Walby, Race Director, says, “We owe our runners, volunteers, spectators, vendors, and airport staff a huge thank you for making this an amazing event! Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, and it’s important to take care of both. Let’s keep the conversations going – be sure to reach out if you need help, and take care of yourself by staying active.”
It wasn’t all warm-ups and PR’s (runner lingo for “Personal Records”), though, as the Fredericton International Airport Authority (FIAA) paired the running event with an aviation expo open to the public (and even kicked in free parking). The airport worked with the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) Flight 2 and the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick (CMHA of NB) to organize the expo, and once again it was a hit with kids and adults alike.
“Being able to give back $28,000 for mental health initiatives is phenomenal, of course, but it’s more than that. It’s a day that lets us spread a little joy, keep the conversation about mental health going, and celebrate with our neighbours,” says event organizer and FIAA Communications Officer Kate O’Rourke.
Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey joined the crowds to run the YFC Runway Run, and have a little fun too! Back L-R: Corena Walby, Kate O’Rourke, Christa Baldwin. Front L-R: Matt DeCourcey, Johanne Gallant.
Runners worked hard to raise funds for CMHA of NB, the designated charity for the 2017 YFC Runway Run, and in addition event organizers work to keep the conversation about mental health going throughout the year.
“The YFC Runway Run and expo is one of the highlights of the year for CMHA of NB. It is a special awareness event as it promotes the physical and mental health connection. It highlights the fact that there is no health without mental health,” says Christa Baldwin, CMHA of NB Executive Director.
Funds raised are put to good use, and allow the CMHA of NB to offer more programming in New Brunswick especially for suicide awareness, anxiety and depression for youth and adults.
The Fredericton International Airport serves over 377,000 passengers annually and offers direct daily service to the major hubs of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax, along with seasonal service to sun destinations. Through direct, indirect and induced economic activity, YFC brings 513 jobs, $8.5-million in taxes, and $24-million in GDP to New Brunswick every year.