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Run in the name of friendship

Money to go toward cancer research
Run in the name of friendship

by Kyle Wells A Powell River raised university student is running in the name of a sick friend and in the hopes of raising money for cancer research.

Johnathan Richardson grew up in Powell River and attended the University of the Fraser Valley. Purely by accident he ended up living in an international residence and became good friends with Carly Perry from Australia, Johanne Lykke-Olesen from Sweden and Rebecca “Bex” Pauls from England.

When Richardson met her, Pauls had already fought off cervical cancer once. Richardson transferred to a school in Toronto to finish his degree but the four friends stayed in touch and made plans to one day meet up again. In September 2010 Pauls’ cancer returned.

When they heard about the recurrence, Pauls’ three friends began to think of ways in which they could help. The idea came up for each friend to commit to running a certain distance in their home country and collect pledges to raise money for cancer research. They decided to each run 333 kilometres, for a near even 1,000, and try to raise the equivalent of $333 Canadian each.

Richardson is collecting for his run and keeping track of his progress by way of the Canadian Cancer Society’s website. So far he has logged 231 kilometres in 21 hours of running and has raised $115. He’s aiming to have completed his run by the end of the year.

Each friend is raising money to be donated to a cancer research institute in their home country. The money is being donated in Pauls’ name. The money that Richardson raises will go to Canadian Cancer Society.

The friends had a hard time deciding on when to tell Pauls they were going to do this. All three are busy with school work and co-ops and the like and they wanted to be sure that they would be able to live up to their promise before letting her know about it. They told her after each had completed their first 100 kilometres.

“She was blown away, she was really excited,” said Richardson. “It gave her a nice little boost, which was definitely good.”

Pauls is still fighting the cancer but is doing reasonably well, said Richardson. She recently flew to Sweden to visit with Lykke-Olesen, a good sign for the state of her health. Back in April things were much worse and Pauls had to take a break from school to focus on her health. Richardson and the others visited her for two weeks at the time and Pauls had lost all her hair and did not look well.

“It was kind of a shock to us because the last time we saw her she was super healthy,” said Richardson. “It was definitely a wake up and that’s when it really hit us.”

Fit but by no means an avid runner before this initiative, Richardson said he has certainly noticed a difference in his own health and stamina since beginning the run. He has shaved down six-minute kilometres to around five minutes 15 seconds and is getting stronger by the run.

People who want to help Richardson and make a donation to cancer research in Pauls’ or anyone’s name can search online for Johnathan Richardson.