In its Final Year, Imagine Run Goes Technicolor


Feature 02

For ten years, the annual Imagine Run has been a fixture on Niverville’s event calendar, and the same will be true this year as the run once again transforms Hespeler Park on September 23 into a family-friendly party zone. But as the run marks its ten-year anniversary, it also bids farewell.

“The run has evolved and changed with the times,” says Mona Stott, who started Imagine with her husband Jeff and daughter Danielle a decade ago following the sudden death of their son and brother, Joey. “I know people are going to say, ‘Well, why don’t you continue doing that?’ We’d rather leave it on a bang than just let it peter out. And what a nice way to finish this!”

The Imagine Run will indeed go out with a bang, introducing a new twist. The 2017 event will be a colour run. As runners make their way through the five-kilometre course (there will also be a 10k option), they’ll pass through various stations where participants on the sidelines throw coloured corn starch at the runners. The effect promises to be kaleidoscopic.

In the evening, with the multi-coloured runners covered in a psychedelic melange of red, yellow, blue, green, and purple, out will come the black lights to make the rainbow display glow brightly in the night. Under a hail of fireworks, the Imagine Run will celebrate its grand finale after party, ten years in the making.

The fireworks come courtesy of Archangel Fireworks, who have pledged to bump up their game for this special occasion. The day will also feature Floyd the Clown, face-painting, Pedro’s fire show, and the annual $5 barbecue prepared by Crystal Springs. Teen Challenge will be out in force to give Imagine a hand as well.

“I truly believe in the ten years we have made a change,” says Stott. “We have. Someone said to me recently that it’s actually sexy to talk about mental health now. Well, I never looked at it that way, but we’ve come a long ways. Someone can say, ‘Yeah, I suffer with bipolar.’ Before? Oh my god, no one would have ever come close to admitting that. So have we made progress? Absolutely. Is there a lot of work to be done? For sure.”

This Is Not the End
Although the run is coming to its natural conclusion this year, the Imagine team itself will continue its important work of raising awareness about mental health.

“The ten years of the run are coming to a close,” Stott says, noting that Imagine as an organization is bigger than just the annual run. “It’s sad in a way, but you know what? It’s just the birth of the next thing. The One Big Day for Imagine has started. And we did the fashion show, we did the craft show. Imagine is a group that puts on events to help raise awareness.”

Last year, on the Wednesday prior to the run, Stott helped to oversee the inaugural One Big Day for Imagine. This event sees many of our region’s local celebrities hoisted up into the air on a crane from the Niverville Credit Union parking lot. Once at the top, they bring out their phones and take pledges from their friends and family to be let down.

The first Big Day went extremely well, beating Stott’s expectations. So it seemed a no-brainer to keep it going, with a few tweaks. In fact, she hopes to keep it going for the next several years.

“I think we have enough celebrities in our town and surrounding places that we can keep having people on the lift,” Stott says. “The whole idea behind the lift is that if I was in distress or suicidal, I’d be going to my contacts. And my contacts differ from yours. So that’s why when you’re up there, you’re reaching out. That’s the whole idea.”

A barbecue lunch will be served, hosted by William Dyck and Sons, and celebrities will be hoisted up in half-hour intervals from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. This year’s celebrities include comedian Matt Falk, Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen, and many local business owners like Carl and Heather Fast, Anna Sawatzky, John Schmitke, Al Wiens, and Colleen Dyck. A full list, as well as a schedule, can be seen on page 7.

A Word of Thanks
Over the years, the Imagine committee has changed a lot. Stott says that she’s been the one constant since the committee’s inception.

“This is all volunteer, one hundred percent,” she says. “Nobody’s being paid. It’s all about the cause. And it’s tasking, and lot of people who are on this committee suffer themselves. So they go go go, hard, and then they burn out. You can see it. And that’s okay. We’ve had lots of people that love the Imagine group and have many times said that it’s saved a member of their family.”

Stott says that none of the amazing gains she’s witnessed in the past decade would have been possible without the help of past committee members and community members who have come up alongside to lend a hand. She is deeply grateful for the innumerable contributions people have made in the service of creating suicide-safer communities.

“It’s amazing that it’s been ten years,” says Stott. “But it’s been a long ten years. It’s been ten years since I’ve spoken to my son. It’s ten years since I’ve seen him. I see old girlfriends that are now married and have a family, and I think, ‘This is what we’re missing out on.’ He’s missing out on his niece. We’ve been robbed and he’s been robbed. Those are the cards we’ve been dealt. We’re making the best of it, but it’s a daily struggle. And you just keep going.”

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