A local fitness trainer Lori Kah leads a group of participants in a warmup at the Gary G. Brohman Athletic Field in Haliburton before the Katie’s Run for Epilepsy back in 2016. Inspired by Katie Woudstra, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teen in 2012, the event helped to raise close to $400,000 in 10 years. The organizers of the event announced 2022 would be the end and will not have another event. Woudstra said she always loved to see the smiles on the faces of participants, particularly when they gathered for the warmup before the run.Despite the end of the event, there is still time to donate to Katie’s Run at www.katiesrun.ca/donation.htm. /FILE

Katie’s Run ends, but efforts continue

Organizers are thankful for all the support the event received after 10 years

By Darren Lum

This year would have been the 10th installment of Katie’s Run for Epilepsy Research.
However, the organizers have decided to cancel the popular summer fundraising event to raise awareness and money for epilepsy, named after Katie Woudstra.
Diagnosed at 16 with epilepsy in 2012, the Haliburton raised girl was the inspiration for the start of the long-standing event, which started later that year.
It has raised close to $400,000 for epilepsy research and there is hope to top off donations before the end of the month.

From the Katie’s Run website, it stated “after much consideration and with great sadness, the Woudstra and Pogue families have decided that Katie’s Run will come to an end. There are many reasons for this decision including the uncertainty of the pandemic, Katie’s ongoing health challenges, and the Woudstra family’s upcoming move to Nova Scotia. It was our hope to gather one more time, united in the cause, but that is not to be.”
From Halifax, Woudstra told the Echo she hopes past participants remember the event for how it brought people together.
“I hope that they remember that they had fun, and that they learned about epilepsy, if they didn’t know things about epilepsy before,” she said.

Katie acknowledged how the event was often a bitter sweet day, filled with joy to be with the people she had met and got to know, but sadness for the epilepsy being at the root of the cause for the event. She said what stood out to her was seeing the smiles and laughter on the faces of participants, who were going through the warmup exercises and movements before running.
She points out her name and her story was front and centre for the event, but it was really about the stories that people shared with her, which were shared with others that will always be central to the effort.
“It was never supposed to be about just my story. It was the years that we were sharing other people’s stories, and I hope … it was really a meaningful thing for them and their families, and a fun day. A really fun day or them too,” she said.
The event is no longer going to be held anymore, but the effort to raise awareness and money isn’t over for Katie. She and her mother Geri will still be connected to the epilepsy community. This week she and her mother are going to attend and lend their support to The Purple Day Gala, which is a fundraising event that supports the Epilepsy Association of The Maritimes.

Katie and her mother are thankful for the all the support Haliburton’s event has received during the years.
Her mother Geri Woudstra said in an email, “The highlights have been the generosity of our local sponsors and media, our incredible volunteers, and the community of support and networking built through the event and participants. Meeting other families that have been impacted by the realities of epilepsy was both heartbreaking and inspiring. I will always remember how incredible it was to see what could be accomplished when people rally to support a cause! ($400,000 raised so far!).”
As far as the future for fundraising or events, Katie didn’t rule anything out.
“You never know what could be out this way too. So, our goal was to always try to make it something [across], Canada, but who knows?” she said.

Although the event is ending, there is still time to donate money before the chapter closes by March 31. See www.katiesrun.ca/donation.htm for more information.