By Laura Armstrong, Ottawa Citizen October 6, 2013
OTTAWA — There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd when double-lung transplant recipient Helene Campbell crossed the finish line at Saturday’s A Lung Run.
“Watching Helene cross the finish line was amazing,” said run organizer Mary DeFranco. “She was so happy. Just watching her made it all worthwhile.”
Campbell received new lungs in April of last year after she was diagnosed with advanced idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She trained for three months to run the 5-kilometre race, said DeFranco, but ended up joining the majority of the 450 participants for the 2.5 kilometre fun run. The exercise didn’t slow the 22-year-old organ donation advocate down either, said DeFranco.
“She’s a bumblebee. She’s all over the place all the time.”
DeFranco, her husband Frank and oldest son Travis, a family real estate team from Barrhaven, were organizers and presenting sponsors of the run, which started and finished at Mother Teresa High School on Longfields Drive.
The family hosts a charity event every year, said DeFranco. Travis knows Helene, said DeFranco, so it was important for the family to support her cause.
Initially, all the funds raised by runners were earmarked for Campbell’s Give2Live campaign, established to raise money for the Transplant Patient and Family Support Fund at Toronto General Hospital. The campaign goal is to raise $300,000 to help 30 patients while they wait for a life-saving organ transplant.
After six Barrhaveners were killed on Sept. 18 when an OC Transpo bus crashed into a Via Rial train, DeFranco said her family and Campbell instantaneously decided to donate half the money to the families of Dave Woodard, Kyle Nash, Connor Boyd, Karen Krzyzewski, Michael Bleakney and Rob More.
“It was pretty traumatizing, it still is. All of us know someone, of course. As a community, we all mourned,” said DeFranco. “It was tough, it was so unexpected. Every dollar counts. It might not be a lot, but it’s enough to just help ease things for the families when they’re going through this.”
The final dollar amount had yet to be tallied Saturday night, but DeFranco estimated an intake of about $25,000 less race expenses. The number of participants ended up reaching 250 more people than the family expected, leaving DeFranco will one prediction for what she believes will become an annual event.
“Next year will be huge.”
via Lung transplant recipient Hélène Campbell completes fundraising race.