Caroline Bernard has been inspired by her mom’s running ability since was 10 years old.
The Deep Bay runner has been training for a half marathon this summer as her mom Margarita, 70, also continues to run regularly.
In October, the pair decided to use their commitment to the sport to create an event to honour a loved one and give back to a Comox Valley organization.
In July 2016, Goyo Bernard was killed by an impaired driver on Cliffe Avenue while walking on the sidewalk next to his wife Margarita. During the trial and afterward, the pair received support from the Comox Valley chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and wanted to use the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the organization.
“It was my dad’s birthday in October and we wanted to honour him,” explained Caroline. “My mom is in a group for people who have lost a partner and I’m in a group for people who lost a parent and we meet monthly over Zoom. We really wanted to give back.”
They mentioned the idea of a fundraising run to their group leaders, and quickly they organized a fundraising account, made shirts and even received an escort from local fire departments.
Margarita decided to run 10km on the Old Island Highway from their home in Deep Bay while Caroline ran 18 km on the Inland Island Highway on Nov. 1.
Trucks from the Deep Bay Volunteer Fire Department followed each runner with MADD banners and reached out to family and friends to fundraise. Their goal was to raise $1,000; with drop-off cash donations, the pair raised $2,700.
“I’m very grateful for MADD,” noted Margarita who wore a shirt with ‘Running for my husband’ printed on it along with the MADD logo (Caroline wore a similar one with ‘Running for my dad’ on the backside).
She added various people across the province and the country supported the event including Sherry Lake in Mississauga who participated in a virtual race alongside the Bernards and carried Goyo’s name – amongst others – who were victims of impaired driving.
“There were quite a few tears along the way – there was a tremendous response from strangers.”
Both Margarita and Caroline hope to make the run an annual event to give back to MADD, which Caroline said is an “amazing organization” and their family was very touched by what they do. They are hoping to incorporate a walk or bike ride and to be able to expand to other provinces.
“This is a tribute to my dad – I remember him every day. (Drinking and driving) is 100 per cent preventable,” noted Caroline.