Run for a cause
Thea Penashue raising money for ALS
For Thea Penashue, the last five kilometres of her half-marathon run on Oct. 13 were the hardest.
Penashue was running to support the ALS Society.
“My legs didn’t want to run the last five kilometres but I kept going .... and the last one kilometre I really wanted to walk. When your body is telling you to stop but your mind is telling you to keep going, it’s definitely difficult,” Penashue said during a recent phone interview.
Penashue pushed on knowing her 21 km run — which started at her grandmother’s (Elizabeth Penashue) cabin at Gosling Lake and ended at the RCMP building in Sheshatshiu — was in memory of her grandfather, Francis Penashue. The well-known and respected Innu elder and former Sheshatshiu chief died of ALS on Sept. 12, 2013. He was 74 years old. Penashue said she will always remember her grandfather’s great sense of humour.
“My grandfather and my grandmother were always playing jokes... they were always wanting to make their grandchildren laugh .... anything to keep them happy and laughing,” she said.
Penashue also completed a run for ALS in 2017. This year’s run brought in over $8,000. When combined with last year’s event, the Penashue family has raised almost $14,000 for the cause.
Penashue is thankful for her parents (Peter and Mary Ann Penashue) as well as her aunts, uncles and other family and friends for their support – both financially and during the run (some people participated by running shorter distances).
The ALS Society of Newfoundland and Labrador describes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, or motor neuron disease) as a disease that gradually paralyzes people because the brain is no longer able to communicate with the muscles of the body that we are typically able to move at will. Over time, as the muscles of the body break down. Someone living with ALS will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow, and eventually breathe.
Approximately 80 per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of being diagnosed, the website notes.
Penashue said her grandfather lived with ALS for about a year. However, was only diagnosed with the disease about a week before he passed away.
“One of my reasons for doing my run is that people are not aware about what this disease is,” she said.
While speaking with Penashue she spoke of how her grandfather died peacefully in a tent behind the hospital in Happy ValleyGoose Bay. It’s how he would have wanted it, she said.
“My family set up the tent and when he was ready to go, we brought him outdoors to the tent. The machine was unplugged... he left where he was born (in a tent),” she said.
Forty per cent of the funds raised during the run are directed to ALS Canada’s National Research Fund and 60 per cent stays in the province enabling the ALS Society of Newfoundland and Labrador to help individuals and their families affected by the disease.
“Many leading ALS researchers believe that effective treatment options are now a matter of when, not if, and that research discovery is limited only by the amount of funding available to pursue it,” she said in a social media post prior to her run.
For more information on ALS visit www.alsnl.ca, call 709-6349499 or toll free at 1-888-3649499.
Thea Penashue hugging her grandmother Elizabeth at the end of the run.
The Penashue family with Thea for her run on Oct. 13
Thea Penashue saying goodbye to her grandfather Francis, who passed away in 2013 from ALS.