Oak Bay fitness guru Lara Lauzon relishes her role as “warmup girl” at Mile Zero each September.
In the role she’s held for three decades, Lauzon will lead participants in a basic running stretch before they head off on the 34th annual Terry Fox Run this Sunday. It’s a heartfelt way to give back to the community.
“It’s my little community service, but I think I get more out of it than the participants. It’s a real honour to be asked every year,” she says, having missed only three or four times since leading the inaugural stretch. “My mom passed way from cancer when I was a teenager. When I got involved in the Terry Fox Run it was meaningful for me as a participant.”
Lauzon was just shy of her 18th birthday when her mom died. At a “way too young” 43, her mom was an award-winning teacher who sewed her daughter’s winter coats and was an avid community volunteer.
“We’re celebrating her life in a different way,” she says.
That first event provided a feeling of coming full circle years later.
“It was like a healing process,” Lauzon recalls.”It just felt so positive. People running the race with cancer, without cancer, in honour of people with cancer. It felt like this big breath of fresh air … I just love it.”
Community, healing and embracing are all words she feels describe the event to this day. And it all comes with heavy Oak Bay flavour.
“They have to do a lot of work to engage the community. It’s a truly volunteer-based organization,” Lauzon says. “It brings community members together in such a profound and poignant way.”
Organized by local residents Graham and Doug Lamb, the day features music by Oak Bay’s Bald Eagles, putting participants in a moving mood. Local firefighters are joined by those from Victoria and Saanich to lose their locks during a Great Canadian Hair ‘Do’ organized by Linda Johnstone.
“It’s a real integration of communities,” Lauzon says. “When everybody does their little bit, that’s what makes community. We can all help each other be our best.”
Registration starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 with official opening ceremonies at 10. Lauzon’s warmup starts at 10:20 with the Terry Fox Run starting at 10:30 a.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Visit terryfox.org to learn more about the annual run inspired by Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope including how to donate to the cause.