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The Greatest Cheerleader

Saturday, June 20, 2015 6:22 AM




Someone told me before I registered for the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Marathon to be sure that I registered early enough to get my name printed on my race bib.  I didn't really get the significance of that advice until race day when the power of having people cheer me on by name was, at moments, all there was to convince me that I should keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

I don't know how many people line the streets during the waterfront marathon, but, amid everything I heard from the sidewalks that day and the number of people that willed me on by name, there was a voice I heard that seemed to somehow rise above.  It was my dad's.  There was a special strength in hearing my dad cheer me on that day because beyond whatever encouragement he was yelling out to me, I heard a million other things.  

I heard the day he bought my sister and I our first running gear (new shoes and matching pink wind pants with pink wind breakers).  He told us that he would support us 1000% if we wanted to be runners, but that we had to make the commitment and do the work.  I heard him on my graduation day, telling me how important it was to have a good education and that, no matter what happened in my life, no one could ever take my education away from me.  I saw his big smile as he watched my sister and I open up our fully-stocked toolboxes on Christmas morning, telling us to never be dependent on someone else when we were perfectly capable of doing things ourselves.  I saw him tear up before walking me down the aisle on my wedding day.  I heard him tell his granddaughters how important an education is and that no matter what happens in their life, no one can take it away from them.

I also heard him championing an end to violence against women. There is something incredibly powerful in hearing the men in your life, and particularly your dad, cheerlead an end to gender-based violence.  It makes me realize what a gift his example of respecting and championing women truly is. It made me realize how blessed I am to have my dad cheering me on.

And so I encourage all dads to never underestimate the gift you are to your daughters and all men to appreciate the impact of your example.  And I leave you with one of the greatest moments I've ever lived...and the voice of the best cheerleader I could ask for.  Thank you dad for believing in all that I have ever wanted to do, and thank you for your belief in the importance of ending violence.  Happy Father's Day!

(Please consider supporting the marathon my sister and I are running - and I know my dad will be cheering for - with a donation supporting One Spark's programs that assist women to achieve financial security in order to be free of violence.  You can make a donation at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/2-for-2-marathon-two-sisters-for-two-women/.)