Claudine Lukawesky is inspired to run

Photo Suzanne Park.
Photo Suzanne Park.

Many of us were first inspired to run by Terry Fox. His Marathon of Hope launched the annual mid-September run that has honoured him since 1981 and raised over $750 million for cancer awareness and research.

Leaside mother Claudine Lukawesky was also inspired when “a Northlea teacher wanted to encourage her students to participate in track and field as an entry point to exercise. She asked me if I’d be willing to help out.” Claudine stepped up, and a decade later she’s still breathing life into a morning ritual that has many students starting their day with a burst of exercise.

“These early morning outings, named The Kilometre Club, are staffed by Grade 8 volunteers, parents and a few teachers,” she says. “The Club relies on and appreciates the volunteers’ and the school administrators’ support. I devote approximately 10 hours in advance of the club startup to order materials and draw up duty and class lists. On the first of 13 consecutive days, I arrive 30 minutes early to brief volunteers and ensure everything is set up, ready to go, and wraps by 8:30.”

The club runs pretty seamlessly, she adds. “We start on a Wednesday, with morning announcements to remind everyone that Kilometre Club starts in two days and will run for the next few weeks.”

A key principle is to encourage students of various ages and abilities to participate in a noncompetitive physical activity and experience the joy of exercising together. “Everyone who comes out is encouraged, and most return for all 13 days. Kids can be seen running, walking, even being pushed in a wheelchair around the Northlea track. For some this is their first experience with organized physical activity,” Claudine says.

The club’s success is based on a few simple guidelines. Every runner gets an athlete’s bracelet charm each day and receives one Popsicle stick for each 200-metre lap of the track. The volunteers record how many sticks each child collects and records that number on the student’s class tally sheet along with the number of students in the class participating that day. The class with the highest number of students participating and the most kilometres earns a highly coveted pizza party when KC wraps for the season.

Claudine received a third inspiration for running a few years ago when a dear friend of hers, who suffered severe injuries as a battered woman, asked, “Would you be willing to run a marathon on my behalf to raise funds for the Canadian Women’s Foundation for victims of domestic violence?”

Though she’d never considered running a marathon, after a brief hesitation, Claude responded with a resounding “Yes.” So, on Sunday, April 28th as Claude puts it, “I will be challenging myself to run the Big Sur Marathon in California by not training for it. This is deliberate and for all the right reasons. I am running this marathon without training in solidarity with victims of domestic violence who do not train their bodies and minds to be battered or train their bodies to recover from being battered. The approximate four hours of pain I may feel is nothing compared to the lifetime of pain they endure.” To learn more: http://support.canadianwomen.org.

Update:

Congrats to Leasider Claudine Lukawesky on completing the Big Sur Marathon April 28/19 in 4:01:01 and raising funds for http://support.canadianwomen.org.

About Suzanne Park 15 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.