Montreal sports personalities gathered at Georges-Saint-Pierre Park in the city’s NDG borough on Saturday afternoon for the first-ever “Power of Sports Walk-a-thon.”
The event aimed to raise funds for the Montreal Community Cares Foundation, an organization that emphasizes the importance of sport in the youth community.
MCCF founder Denburk Reid says the past two years have really highlighted the importance of community and mental health awareness.
“We’ve seen the ramifications of shutting down kids,” he said. “We’ve seen an increase in youth violence, we’ve seen an increase in depression, we’ve seen an increase in suicide attempts that people don’t really talk about.”
Saturday’s walkathon brought together some of Montreal’s best-known athletes and community leaders, including NDG City Councilor Peter McQueen.
“We are so happy to see this great crowd here this morning on such a beautiful day,” McQueen said.
Walk-a-thon The power of sport
Former Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo is also out. He was part of a similar program growing up in Southern California.
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“If it hadn’t been for all the volunteer coaches coaching all the kids in the neighborhood, I never would have been able to achieve anything,” he said.
“It laid a huge foundation for me as an athlete and as a person. Being here in Montreal now and being part of an organization that does pretty much the same thing is crucial for the success of young people.
The event not only served as a fundraiser for several organizations, but also served as a reminder of how sport can help children find their way.
Julien Ligonde Le Clair, 14, says sport gives him a sense of community.
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“It’s like a family. There are people to be there for you and to help you in your life, to be like a better person,” he said. It also taught him to give back to his community.
“We have the big guys here. They helped me out, so I definitely want to be there for the little guys too.
Verdun City Councilor Sterling Downey said it was important for him to come out and support the cause, especially after being locked up.
“It obviously had an impact on their mental health,” Downey said.
“We need community leaders, we need mentors in our community to come and work with our young people and work in our schools, work in our community centers, work with our municipalities.
By Saturday afternoon, over $125,000 had been raised. The money will go to several foundations and help for a variety of reasons, including providing more services, equipment, and renting a field or gymnasium.
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