By Joe Brodie
St Bede’s bi-annual ‘Run for a life’ campaign to raise money for teenage cancer victims holds special significance for one runner this year – Ben Ziolo knows first-hand the horrors of the disease.
Every two years students from the Christchurch college run 125km over five days to help raise money for Canteen.
The charity helped Ben through his battle with Melanoma and now he prepares to return the favour as he becomes the first cancer survivor and Canteen member to run in the event.
Ben was first diagnosed with skin cancer in his first year at St Bede’s, in 2008. He was just 13 years-old.
Four years later he’s once again healthy and helping inspire his fellow classmates.
Speaking at school assembly, Ben urged them to overcome the pain they will feel on the run.
“The pain that you feel running is like a small dose of pain that they (canteen patients) feel every day.”
Ben knows from experience what a difference the money raised makes and urges everyone to get involved.
“All I ask is to please give generously and take the opportunity to go out of your comfort zone and enable Canteen to continue to help teenagers fighting cancer.”
The “Run for a Life” fundraiser was first started in 2002 after St Bede’s decided students needed a community fundraising project.
Canteen was selected as it helped kids around the same age as the students raising the money. In 2009 St Bede’s helped fundraise $96,000 for the cause.
After being involved on a smaller scale in 2002, Rachael Pitcaithly has since taken it upon herself to organise the mammoth event involving 160 students and 40 support adults.
“I know the pain of losing someone to cancer at 40 so the thought of losing someone at that age is unimaginable,” she says.
Like Ben she believes the physical side of the run provides the best understanding of what cancer sufferers go through.
“It helps us understand the day-to-day battles because if it’s hard for us we just think what it’s like for them,” she says.
The event kicks off September 26 with St Bede’s looking to raise $100,000.
Joe Brodie is a young writer-in-training for the 3 News ‘3Youth’ programme.