Hailey Preston

Hailey Preston

Boy’s inspiration leads family on cancer run

Gosselin and Preston family of Lavington kick off their Kids Help Cancer run to Vancouver Friday in Polson Park

Canadian hero Terry Fox continues to inspire young people.

“I was thinking about Terry Fox and what he did and I asked my mom, “How do you do a big run like that?” said Michael Preston, a nine-year-old Lavington Elementary student.

“Mom said it was a lot of work but I wanted to do a run like Terry Fox to help people with cancer. I wanted to run to Vancouver.”

That was last June and Michael convinced the rest of the family, Faren Gosselin, 15, Desiree Gosselin, 13, Charles Bloom students, and Haylee Gosselin, 10, Hailey Preston, 10, and Ty Preston, six, with parents Reg Gosselin and Natalie Preston, to join him.

“We really appreciated what he wanted to do and we figured out that to get to Vancouver they would have to run 8K a day,” said Natalie. “We told them if they could do it we would help them. They trained over the summer and kept it up. We wrote to the Canadian Cancer Society and applied to do an independent fundraiser. We are lucky that we have no family or friends who have had cancer but we want to do what we can to help.”

The family did some fundraisers of their own, a drive-through breakfast on a cold winter day and a candy apple sale and have more than $4,000 towards their goal of $20,000.

“I started to realize it was really going to happen when Mom set up the website,” said Michael.

The family will be at the Canada Day celebrations in Polson Park and then leave on the run planning to get to Stanley Park in Vancouver July 14. They will stay in hotels and camp along the way.

Reg is looking after getting the kids outfitted for the run and he called last week to ask Sport Chek if they could give some kind of a discount on shoes.

When Sport Chek sales associates Sharien Kreller and Kelly Beaugrand heard what the family was going to do, they knew they had to do something to help.

They wrote a letter to Sport Chek upper management starting, “Today we were inspired by a nine-year-old,” and told the story of Michael and his family. The answer, from Cam Munro, Sport Chek marketing director and Jennifer Harbour, director of Power Sport for Kids, came back quickly — “Make it happen.”

“Everyone in the company was really excited and we were willing to give the money out of our own pockets if we had to. We were able to get funding from Power of Sport for Kids, our company charity which we raise money for to give sporting goods to kids who need them across Canada through Sport Chek and Sport Mart. This is the first time we’ve been able to give back to kids in Vernon,” said Justin Dorval, Vernon store manager, who was impressed by the Gosselin Preston family and how the kids were getting up early to train and doing fundraisers. Help for cancer research has a personal meaning for Dorval as his three-year-old cousin Oscar is currently having cancer treatment. Dorval hopes to meet the family in Vancouver at the end of the run.

“This is pretty amazing. Sport Chek has done so much more than we ever thought or expected. We can’t thank them enough. It’s great to know that people believe in us and are behind us,” said Reg.

Dorval opened the store after hours Tuesday evening and several staff members volunteered to come in and help the family choose two pairs of running shoes and changes of clothes.

“It’s really exciting to get to choose all these things, it makes you feel like you’re a VIP. We’ve been working hard and it’s really motivating for us that they want to help us,” said Haylee Gosselin, as she and the other girls headed for the change rooms with armloads of colourful clothing, knowing that not only are they doing a good thing, they’re going to look great and be comfortable while they’re doing it.

Mom and Dad also got outfitted.

The family will do the Kids Help Cancer Run taking the Hope-Princeton route and each participant will run 4K twice a day. They will be joined by grandparents Dan and Carmen Bowhey along the way and will have a police escort for parts of the run.

For more information and to make a donation see www.prestongosselinkidshelpcancer.webs.com.