Clear skies and a warm day greeted runners at the second YFC Runway Run last Saturday, and with more than $34,000 raised by the event for the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, event organizers hope there will also be some more bright days ahead for those experiencing mental illness.
The five kilometer race was a joint initiative of the Fredericton International Airport Authority (FIAA) and the Capital City Road Runners. FIAA Communications Officer Kate O’Rourke says, “We look forward to this event all year – welcoming our community to the airport, giving them access to areas that are normally restricted, and having some fun while raising money to support mental health – it’s an incredible day.”
Ryan O’Shea of New Maryland was the first across the finish line at this year’s run with a fantastic finish time of 17:38. Frederictonian Sheryl Johnstone was the quickest female again this year, improving on her winning time from last year with a speedy 22:57.
Accompanying the race was a family expo and static aircraft display, which attracted hundreds of families who came out to see the planes, watch aircraft take off and land, and enjoy the activities in the pavilion, creating a festival-like atmosphere at the airport.
The aircraft display was coordinated by the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association Flight #2. O’Rourke emphasizes that this kind of support from the community is key to the success of the YFC Runway Run and family expo, pointing out that such a complex event wouldn’t be possible without the support of the event partners, the staff at FIAA who volunteer their time, and the other businesses located at the airport.
“We’re especially grateful to our co-Race Directors Corena Walby and Jos Eijkelestam,” adds O’Rourke, saying “they’re incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated, and we cannot thank them enough for volunteering their time.”
Christa Baldwin, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick says her organization will put the funds raised to good use. “We are so grateful for the support shown through the YFC Runway Run. As a non-profit organization, we rely on funds like those raised at this event to ensure we provide quality services and reach more people in need. This year’s funds will be used for direct mental health programming, including suicide prevention.”
Most importantly, the organizing committee and the CMHA of NB hope the YFC Runway Run gets people talking. “This type of event raises further awareness for mental health and leads to important conversations. These conversations break down the stigma that can keep people from seeking help,” says Baldwin.
The Fredericton International Airport serves over 350,000 passengers annually and offers direct flights to the major hubs of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax, along with seasonal service to sun destinations.