What I know for sure: Lessons from the Giants Head Grind

Annual event, held Saturday, May 19 in Summerland, raises money and awareness of colorectal cancer

When you lace up your sneakers this Saturday May 19 for the Fifth Annual Giants Head Grind — Christopher Walker Memorial Race, know that whether you walk, run, bike, volunteer or cheer from the sidelines, our entire family is so very grateful for your participation.

Through the efforts of Summerland Rotary, the District of Summerland, a committed group of volunteers and spurred on by those of us that knew and loved our son Chris Walker, the Giants Head Grind was started in May of 2014 to elevate awareness of colorectal cancer.

Now in its fifth year the event continues to attract over 400 individuals of all ages who walk, run and cycle their way from Peach Orchard Park on Lake Okanagan to the top of Giants Head Mountain.

Together with dedicated volunteers and sponsors, who help to make the race a reality, we are literally doing the “Grind for the Health of Everyone’s Behind,” raising awareness and raising funds.

From the beginning we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support; from the individuals who take part; businesses and sponsors who have gotten behind the race, the District of Summerland including Parks and Recreation as well as the team at Public Works.

Without all of you this event would not be possible.

Oprah Winfrey built an entire brand around the phrase, “What I know for sure.”

Over the past five years I have definitely come to realize there is very little we do know for sure but here are a couple of things I now know:

What I know for sure: Events occur in life that cause such pain and sadness you believe you will never survive them.

Such was our story, when Chris was diagnosed with late stage colorectal cancer in 2012 that ultimately ended his life less than a year later.

Our family and close friends were thrown into an inconceivable journey that none of us were sure how we would endure.

What I know for sure: Life is about choices on how we move forward through tremendous loss and grief.

We have the power to decide if our circumstances destroy us or make us stronger.

While it’s true that we don’t get to write our story, we do have a hand in it and we do get to choose how we react to it. It is up to us whether to turn in or turn away from support, remain engaged and stay involved in life, it is our choice to carry on.

What I know for sure: There are special moments (dare I say miracles), that take place even in the midst of crisis and loss. The kindness of strangers, the seemingly boundless depth of friendship, the significance of the smallest word or gesture, the unwavering support of family.

These collections of kindness, pure and unscripted actually keep you moving forward, keep you breathing, can even bring a smile or a laugh, when everything you know and believe has been shattered.

What I know for sure: Every year as we watch the registration build for the Grind and the volunteers put their names forward, a piece of our heart is healed. We know that Chris would be proud of all of you for taking part, for taking the time to join us and for making something positive come out of something so meaningless.

What I know for sure: That I live in a place of constant gratitude, because of each of you, because of all of you…..

Ellen Walker-Matthews is the founder and organizer of the Giants Head Grind. The race to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain will be held Saturday, starting at Peach Orchard Beach in Summerland.

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