Deanne Puder and her family went through a “horrific few months” last year when her father was ill with bladder cancer and died in October.
“I don’t want any other families to have to go through this,” she says, explaining her personal motivation for organizing the Toronto leg of the Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness Walk on Sept. 23.
To honour her father, Ingo, the Leaside resident reached out to Bladder Cancer Canada to find out how she could help other families with a member facing bladder cancer.
“You have this heaviness, this hole in you, and you want to know what to do for that,” she says.
She expected the organization would ask her to maybe help serve coffee at meetings, she says, but they had a bigger challenge for her. They needed a head organizer for their Toronto fundraising walk scheduled for Sept. 23 at Wilket Creek in Sunnybrook Park, near Eglinton Avenue East and Leslie Street.
Puder leapt at the chance to channel her grief into the job.
Organizing a walk this large is a lot of work, but she knows she’s making a difference to how patients are dealing with this disease, she says. “I can’t think of a better way to spend my time at this point in my life.”
Puder lives on Sutherland Drive with her husband and two teenage children. She is a former sales representative of the Town Crier community newspapers (forerunner of Streeter) and has been involved in the Leaside community in several other capacities over the years.
People of all ages can register to join the Toronto walk online for free or they could show up at the event to register at 9 a.m. The five-kilometre walk begins at 10:30 a.m.
Donations and pledges are also being accepted online.
Participants receive a commemorative T-shirt. Pickle Barrel is providing a free lunch and there will be other activities at the site for the entire family, including face painting.
Puder is expecting to draw 300 participants for the walk with a goal of raising $220,000.
Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Canada, the fourth most common among men.
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