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Krista's legacy lives on

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Krista Johnson's legacy lives on.

On Saturday morning, some 1,400 people braved the gloomy skies, the chilly temperatures and the drizzle to gather at Pembroke's Riverside Park for the second annual Krista Johnson Memorial Run for Change.

More than a 1,000 runners and walkers of all ages took part in the event, whether it was the 2 K, 5 K 10 K or half marathon, as they were cheered on by family and friends, as well as the volunteers who were on hand to ensure everything went smoothly.

Laurie Johnson, Krista's mother, said they were still tabulating the results, but feels they raised between $20,000 and $30,000 for The Krista Johnson Memorial Foundation. That body, in turn, supports The Grind Youth Centre, the Live it Up program, Columbus House, Fellowes High School scholarships and sponsors a couple of campers so they can attend Family and Children's Services Darlene Aikens Memorial Summer Camp.

The foundation also supports programs which encourage physical activity in youth, and it is that latter point which would have been the most important to Krista, Laurie Johnson said.

"Krista's legacy was to get people moving, especially young people," she said. The large turn out of children of all ages, and in most of the events, would have pleased her greatly.

"I know Krista would be smiling about this," Johnson said.

Krista Johnson, an avid runner and cyclist who was dedicated to her community and promoting physical fitness, founded the Run for Change as a fundraiser for The Grind Youth Group, just one of many works she was involved in. It was renamed in her honour following her tragic death in a cycling accident in Ottawa in 2012.

Krista's mom said she has been receiving nothing but positive feedback from everyone who took part in the run, which continues to expand each year. She said she was both overwhelmed and emotional seeing the large turn out at Riverside Park.

The school challenge, where elementary schools in the area who signed up and brought out the most students to the run as a ratio of their population, had a half dozen schools participate, each bringing teams ranging from 10 to 30 members.

Among those schools taking part were Champlain Discovery Public School, Rockwood Public School, Pine View Public School, Killaloe Public School, Equinoxe Public School and Dr. Wilbert Keon School.

Johnson said they are still working out which of these will receive a $500 donation to their school, and will announce that in the near future.

She said the community's support for the run has been astounding, and she wanted to thank everyone for making it a success, from the volunteers and participants, to the businesses who sponsored them and donated items such as the use of barbecues, food, and more than 100 items for the silent auction.

"Between the donations and the registrations, it has become this big spectacular event, and it wouldn't be that without them," Johnson said, adding she is already looking forward to next year.

"We are growing, and that is a good thing."

Anyone who wants to buy a microfibre workout/running shirt ($15) from this event can call 613-401-1104.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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