SUMMERSIDE – Kristen Cameron may have been another time zone away, but her courageous spirit and will to overcome adversity filled the air of a local school cafeteria on Saturday morning.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Bernice Cameron, right, and Allana Smythe approach the finish line of the second annual Kristen Cameron 5K Fun Run in Summerside on Saturday morning. Bernice is Kristen’s grandmother.
The second annual Kristen Cameron 5K Fun Run started and ended in front of Summerside Intermediate School, but the rainy conditions did nothing to discourage the 115 participants.
“From our perspective, the fact people care enough to come out and support the cause, which is dear to our hearts, it’s a pretty amazing day,” said Kristen’s father and Kinkora native Brian Cameron as a total of $2,171 was raised for the Kristen Cameron Trust Fund.
Kristen was working towards her masters degree and coaching hockey in Erie, Pa., in 2010, when she was hit by a drunk driver while cycling. Injuries left her in a wheelchair, and after undergoing extensive rehab in Toronto she now resides in Whitby, Ont.
“There is a little bit more spark to her these days because she (Kristen) has gotten involved in some wheelchair events,” said Brian. “She is doing some wheelchair rugby of all things, and doing some wheelchair racing.
“She’s progressing towards some degree of normalcy in terms of what she can do and what she can’t do. It’s a positive.”
It was during a visit to speak to students at Summerside Intermediate in April 2013 that inspired school staff member Bonnie Smith to organize the run.
“She touched my heart and I think she touched the hearts of everyone,” Smith, her voice cracking with emotion, told participants following the race. “She is an amazing woman and continues to always look forward and up. . .”
Strong family support
Over 20 members of the Cameron family participated, including Kristen’s 76-year-old grandmother Bernice Cameron of Kinkora.
Bernice was not about to let the rain deter her as she walked the course in what could be described as less-than-perfect conditions with Allana Smythe, the girlfriend of her grandson Ben Cameron.
“I was quite willing to do all I can,” said Bernice, who made a point to praise the efforts of Smith, the many volunteers and participants. “Kristen is very special to us.”
Bernice, who walks regularly, was unable to participate in the inaugural run because she was “sick under the weather,” but was not about to miss this year’s event, rain or shine.
“What an inspiration she is to not only us as a family but people she doesn’t know,” said Bernice. “Her attitude is great, and she is always upbeat.”
Bernice is very proud of Kristen, and noted that she is continuing to work towards her masters degree, and also said her granddaughter revealed to her in a recent conversation that she wants to learn to drive.
“We (Bernice and husband Wilbur) think of her often, and hope she continues on,” said Bernice. “When she calls me and tells me how she’s doing, it makes my day.”