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KidsAbility Superhero Challenge underway

One man plans to run 58 kilometres on his 58th birthday, with the goal of raising $5,800
Tony Martin_Superhero Challenge
Local ultra runner Tony Martin is one of many everyday community heroes joining forces to raise funds for kids in the upcoming KidsAbility Superhero Challenge. Photo supplied.

Everyday folks in the community are answering the call to join forces with KidsAbility to find their inner hero for an incredible cause. The third annual KidsAbility Superhero Challenge is now underway. The fun and accessible community-wide event takes place June 6-12. It offers participants two options to challenge themselves: Run, Walk, Wheel, or choose their own challenge activity.

“Every hero has a superpower and everyone can be a hero for kids,” said Lisa Talbot, Executive Director for KidsAbility Foundation. “Our entire community is encouraged to take part!”

When Tony Martin of New Hamburg heard about the KidsAbility Superhero Challenge, he took notice. He had seen firsthand the difference KidsAbility services made in the life of a friend’s son. An ultra runner since the 1990s, Martin landed on an idea.

On Sunday, May 15, Martin plans to run 58 kilometres on his 58th birthday with the goal of raising $5,800. Martin has already chosen an 8.7-kilometre trail loop at Shade's Mills Conversation Area in Cambridge as his endurance course.

“People who know me well as an ultra runner know I bring a lot of humour to the sport, like dressing as a clown,” laughed Martin. “They’ll be chuckling to themselves and thinking, ‘that crazy Tony.’ But as far as my challenge is concerned, it’s the best way I know of to give back to the kids.”

Shortly after dawn on his birthday, Martin will start his run, looping seven times to cover the planned distance. It’s a far cry from the distances he’s used to – ultra races exceed the distance of a 42-kilometre marathon and can cover up to 100 kilometres. Martin expects this run will take him less than eight hours to complete. He encourages others to join to keep him company.

“At my age, though,” Martin added laughing. "I always plan extra time for the possibility of the unknown!”

Talbot says it’s exciting to know that people in the community – like Martin – are so committed. She’s quick to point out that providing an accessible experience is the first focus of the event:

“The Superhero Challenge is really about building community spirit across Waterloo Region and Guelph-Wellington. These are the communities we serve. We want to offer inclusive ways for participants to challenge themselves. It’s the best way for individuals, families, and co-workers to get involved, to have fun, and perhaps enjoy the outdoors. With our Superhero Challenge, everyone is a Superhero for kids.”

What makes the 2022 edition of the KidsAbility Superhero Challenge so unique is that it features accessible mapped routes located throughout Cambridge, Elora/Fergus, Guelph, Kitchener, and Waterloo, in addition to themed-suggested challenge ideas.

There is no cost to participate, and registration is open to give participants time to fundraise in the weeks leading up to their personal Superhero Challenge activity.

“There’s a huge demand in Waterloo Region and Guelph-Wellington for therapy services,” said Talbot. “The need for KidsAbility’s services continues to grow as our community expands.”

Every day of the Superhero Challenge is a chance to highlight KidsAbility as participants share their challenges on social media during the week of June 6-12.

“The personal highlight for me is when I see how each participant’s challenge goal equates to children and youth receiving services,” said Talbot. “The outcome of this generosity continues to be seen weeks later, months later, or sometimes years later when kids reach their goals.”

In 2021, participants across Waterloo Region and Guelph-Wellington collectively raised over $160,000. All funds go directly to supporting children and youth with special needs who benefit from life-changing therapy, programs, and services at KidsAbility.

To learn more, register, or make a donation on any participant’s page, visit