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Peel resident runs 42km marathon to support local students

October 29, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

LOCAL JOURNALISM INITIATIVE REPORTER

Rob Ridley has run 40 marathons in his lifetime, with this past weekend marking his 41st. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, and pressures with family, work and everyday life, the timing couldn’t be better for Rob as he prepares to run to support a local charity that is close to his heart.  

“I’m not an elite athlete,” said Ridley. “I run because I enjoy running and the long run is definitely my thing. I haven’t done a marathon in a few years and there really wasn’t any reason for that.”

It all began when his father began to run to stay fit while working as a park ranger in Alberta. Rob took an interest in his father’s favourite pasttime, and eventually the two began running together. In 1996, Ridley sr. challenged his son to run a marathon. Rob agreed, and hasn’t looked back since. 

Ridley ran 42.2 kilometres across Peel Region on Saturday (Oct 24) in support of The Peel Learning Foundation, as a part of the 2020 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

From Oct 1 to Nov 21, marathon runners are participating in a virtual marathon of five, 10, 21 or 42 kilometres. The marathon is for anyone who simply wants to run, or  take part in the annual charity challenge to raise funds for a chosen non-profit. 

 “When this opportunity came up to do a virtual marathon, because of COVID-19, and basically run 42.2 kilometres anywhere you choose, I thought ‘well why don’t I run through Peel and actually support the students’,” said Ridley. 

Ridley has worked at the Peel District School Board for almost twenty years as the Coordinator of Outdoor Education, where students learn and enjoy through nature centres and have the opportunity to experience the outdoor environment. These nature centres include Jack Smythe, GW Finlayson, Britannia Field Centre. 

“We see all the students in Peel. We see the kids who don’t necessarily have the proper lunch, or we do see kids who come out without a proper rain-coat on a day that they should be wearing one, or winter boots,” he explained. “The whole idea of the Peel Learning Foundation is to help students that need help to be more successful. 

He added, “I’ve been supporting the Peel Learning Foundation since it started.” 

The Peel Learning Foundation is a community-based organization that raises funds for students in need in the Peel District School Board to reach their highest level of success with resources to overcome any barriers.

Whether it’s school supplies, clothing, food and other basic necessities, the foundation aims to help. 

Two weeks prior to Ridleys run, he promoted the foundation and his supports to helping raise funds online through social media platforms such as Twitter and got a positive response from the community, with donations reaching $1,335. 

“Considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and everything that’s happening with the schools and everything else right now, we ended up raising almost $1,400 which is fantastic,” he said. “We did throw out a suggestion originally that if 42 people each donated $1, we’d raised $1,700, we just threw that out at the very beginning. With almost $1,400; I am not disappointed at all.”

Ridley began his long run at Jack Smythe Field Centre on Winston Churchill to Royal Windsor Drive and finishing at Jack Darling Park in Mississauga. 

“I run to inspire, not so much others, but myself. Running is not about how quickly you can finish, but how you spend time on that journey and by focusing on the journey rather than the finish line or the destination” said Ridley. “It mirrors a well lived life.”

To learn more about the Peel Learning Foundation or to donate, please visit peellearningfoundation.org. 



         

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