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Selin Kum: Why I Run for United Way


Ottawa may have one of the longest winters in Canada, but I know there’s one thing we can all agree on – the month of May is the most beautiful. It’s also the time of year I stop and reflect on who I am and where I come from. Running allows me to take the time to do that.

I’m fortunate enough to have two places to call home – Turkey and Canada. My family and I moved from Ankara, Turkey to Ottawa when I was five years old. My brother and I would go back to Turkey every few summers to reconnect, and we’ve never forgotten our roots.

I still remember asking my mom why we moved to Ottawa — so far away from all of our family. Why did we leave everything behind? She would always say it was for my brother and I to have a better life. One where higher education is easier to access and there is political stability. One where you have more choice.

I grew up on Somerset Street West, right near the downtown core, and attended Elgin Street Public School. One of my greatest memories as a child is watching the marathon from the sidelines in the spring. I remember all the streets would be closed. The entire city seemed to come to the downtown core to watch. I remember kids holding up signs, ringing cow bells. The energy. The adrenaline. I wanted to participate. I wanted to be a part of the community my parents fought so hard to bring us to.

It’s a memory that has inspired me. It’s why I chose to participate in the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

In 2016, I ran my first 10 kilometer race. In that first year, I raised $300 for a local cancer charity. The next year, I ran the 10 kilometer race again and raised $500 – this time for another local charity that supports sick children.

Now, in 2018, I will run my first-ever half marathon, where I’ve pledged to raise $1000 for United Way Ottawa. I’ve seen how they’re supporting so many people in the Ottawa community. They work with local agency partners, government, stakeholders, and thousands of donors to change lives within the city. Through research and consultation, they analyze where the city needs the most help, and will focus resources on that area.

Whether it be helping people overcome poverty, integrating those who newly immigrated to Ottawa, or lending a helping hand to those suffering from mental health issues, they’re always there. After seeing how active they are within the community, I selected them as the charity I choose to support during my very first half-marathon.

Ottawa Race Weekend lets everyone come together to celebrate all the good that there is to see in Ottawa. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, encourages charitability, and fosters community. It enables all of us to take a step back and think to ourselves about how lucky we are to be in such a beautiful city. It’s an event I look forward to because it allows me to become a part of something bigger. I feel more connected to this wonderful place we call home.

I hope you’ll support me this year by donating to my race. All proceeds will go to support United Way’s initiative called project step that helps youth who are facing addiction in Ottawa.

Learn more about project step here.




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From May 1–21, 552 participants hiked, biked, ran, danced, and more, all to Move for Youth. Together, we moved more than 62 million steps, doubling our initial goal.

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