An Essex, Ont., man has made the journey from London to Windsor by foot — going the distance to honour his son who died after being diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer.
John Trepanier is one of the co-founders of the Nolan’s Smile Foundation. The organization raises funds to improve the quality of life for children and families affected by life-threatening diseases.
The foundation was started following the death of two-year-old Nolan Trepanier.
At 18 months old, Nolan was diagnosed with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia, a rare and aggressive form of blood cancer that affects children.
Nolan died on Jun. 21, 2019 — two months before his third birthday.
When asked why he chose such a harrowing feat to honour his son, John Trepanier said he wanted to do something that represented the challenges children with cancer face everyday.
“It’s my first time doing this. I’ve done ultras in the past but this is definitely my first time doing something this distance,” said Trepanier.
Trepanier’s journey started Saturday around 5 a.m. from The Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre.
After running about 182 kilometres, Trepanier ended his run Sunday evening at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Metropolitan campus which houses a paediatric oncology satellite clinic.
But Trepanier didn’t run to the proverbial finish line alone. Along the way, he made multiple stops to greet friends, family and supporters — including some who ran with him for portions of his journey.
He said his effort is all about increasing the public’s awareness of the Nolan’s Smile Foundation and to “honour” children who have struggled with or died from childhood cancer, including Nolan.
“He was a happy little guy who loved tractors and loved everybody,” said Trepanier.
“It’s hard to describe. He was our son. He was everything to us.”