Runners around the world joined the Vikes Kick Cancer relay to support the Mackenzie Rigg fundraiser.
The 25-year-old former Vikes soccer captain is coming off a radiation treatment campaign for stage four brain cancer. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, more than 50 University of Victoria Vikes athletes and alumni ran the 5.4-kilometre loop in Gordon Head for a total relay of 270 kilometres.
It is the centerpiece for a Brain Tumour Foundation fundraiser that started with a modest goal of $5,000 last month and has since surpassed $67,000.
“It was incredible, I’ve been trying since Saturday to put into words,” said Rigg, who ran the final lap in tandem with girlfriend and Vikes soccer player Trinity Kettyls. “It was a powerful weekend.”
Earlier this month Rigg finished an intense radiation treatment campaign to shrink the brain tumour that was found in July. The fundraiser quickly reached its first goal of $5,000 and then jumped to $10,000, then $17,000, and then $27,000, before finally getting reset to $50,000. The number 27 was also used to represent the total number of kilometres run in the relay to bring awareness that an average of 27 Canadians are diagnosed with brain cancer each day.
Because of COVID, the Vikes Kick Cancer relay run was at most times one or two people huddled under a tent at Gordon Head’s James Houlihan Park. Once it started (with Vikes running individual laps of 5.4km) Rigg noticed Instagram posts of runners coming in from around the world.
“There were hundreds more kilometres run in places as far as Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Germany, Netherlands, all by Vikes [alumni] or who have another UVic connection,” Rigg said. “It was more than I could keep track of. People at Trinity Western University ran a marathon.”
Rigg’s dad also ran a lap and having his parents see the event was special, he said.
Meeting the fundraiser goal of $50,000 also means that Rigg will be able to choose which research area the money goes to.
“The foundation has shortlisted about 24 different studies that we will look at and choose one to direct money to and will benefit the type of tumour that I have (astrocytoma).”
Rigg is now headed to Vancouver for medical tests and then likely back to his parents home in Kelowna while he waits to learn the next step in the future.
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