Since 2008, Dorval resident Sonia Guarascio has been a perennial presence at the charitable Oka National Park Race. The event is organized by The Running Room and benefits WIAIH (pronounced why-ah), the West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped, a Montréal area non-profit close to Sonia’s heart.
Every year since before he could walk, Sonia has brought her son Soran along with her. Now 9 years old, he participates in the 1 KM kids’ “fun run.”
While Sonia enjoys running, she has also used the race as a way to fundraise for WIAIH. She does this because of Soran, a ball of vibrant energy whose huge smile will melt your heart has Down Syndrome.
In 2016, Sonia was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Raising a child with special needs is already a real challenge for any single parent, despite WIAIH providing some support for Sonia. The cancer diagnosis must have seemed like an insurmountable hurdle.
She underwent a grueling regimen of chemotherapy and radiation treatments which left her exhausted and struggling to keep up with her everyday life. She wasn’t able to run in the fundraiser last November, breaking the community’s collective hearts. Everyone who knows her was wishing so hard she’d pull through.
In an amazing display of personal determination and an incredible work ethic, she has completed the therapies, fought her cancer, and is once again joining the annual race – with little Soran at her side – having missed only a single year.
To top it all off, she has singlehandedly become the event’s top individual fundraiser in 2017, having already received pledges for over $900 on her crowdfunding page. She’s set her goal at $2000, and anyone can pledge more support for her effort by visiting this link: http://bit.do/SoniaG
She is a hero to all those who know her, a beloved part of the WIAIH family, and embodies the Oka Race’s motto: Going the distance, together. Congratulations Sonia!
The annual Oka Park Race gets started at 8 AM on Sunday, November 5th, and registration is ongoing at the Running Room website, http://bit.do/Oka2017.
In 2018, WIAIH will celebrate its 60th anniversary helping the West Island’s most vulnerable citizens: those living with an intellectual disability or autism and their families. From an adapted preschool to year-round specialized recreation activities, as well as an afterschool program and a day program for our aging population, WIAIH strives to advocate for, and increase, the autonomy of thousands of West Islanders each year. At their Oka races since 2008, WIAIH and The Running Room have raised over $100 000 towards WIAIH’s vital mission. Website: wiaih.qc.ca