Tuesday, 28 June 2011 15:06

Cardston hosts its own kind of ‘amazing race’

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By Katie May
The streets of Cardston flashed white under the blazing noon sun June 22 as nearly 2,000 children and parents zoomed toward the finish line in specially made T-shirts for the town’s third annual Cardston Kids Marathon.

Hundreds of people from across southern Alberta — toddlers to grandfathers — ran to catch up to the woman who started it all.

Patricia Beazer, a mother of five, decided to start the local marathon after she lost 120 pounds. Her family, including husband Duane, became healthier by exercising and eating right. Through her vision, the marathon has been three years running, swelling from 620 to 1,382 registered participants along the way.

“I just got inspired and said ‘I really want to do something like that here,’” said Beazer, who, because of her weight loss, has become a triathlete and appeared on the Today Show.

“I wanted my kids to have this opportunity. I wanted to make this a family event.”

She didn’t stop there. Three years ago, she took her new-found healthy outlook to Cardston Elementary School’s parent council, inspiring members to unanimously push for a healthier community.

Since then, the school’s lunch program has been revamped to include more nutritious food such as whole grain bread and fresh fruit. School staff have been trained to work more physical activities into classroom lessons, where each student has exercise buddies their own age.

“The community has embraced it,” said school vice-principal Doreen Pilling, explaining people have been inspired by Beazer’s dramatic weight loss. “Families are being changed here.”

The school has also brought in a healthy living

co-ordinator from the Ever Active Schools program, which has offices in Calgary and Edmonton, to work with students and teach them how to be active.

“It’s fallen right in with what Patricia started to do and the school just jumped on board,” Pilling said.

Children from across the Westwind School Division, which also encompasses Raymond, Magrath, Stirling, Glenwood, Hill Spring and Mountain View, had to run

or walk a total of 25.2 miles to officially be part of the marathon. Most used pedometers to keep track with their families. All of them ran the final mile together in Cardston June 22.

For Beazer, seeing so many people participating was an  indication of how far the community has come and how far it can go in the future.

“Some people think this marathon has been going on for 10 or 15 years or that it’s always been happening, and we’re only in our third year. I guess that means

it’s sustainable,” she said. She’s not sure why the community has so wholeheartedly supported the marathon with their participation and their donations, but guesses it has something to do with people’s individual desire to better themselves.

“People are looking for answers. People want to be healthier and feel better,” she said.

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