Some proof that I had been here.
Something to say that I mattered.
That when my body left this world my soul had made its imprint.”
Son. Brother. Friend. Nephew. Ironman.
Athletic. Adventurous. Driven. Intelligent. Gorgeous.
He would have been 34 on January 27th of this year. Unfortunately, Chris lost his almost year long battle with colon cancer at the very young age of 29 and leaves behind an entire community of people who cherish his memory. If you’ve had the great fortune of meeting Chris’ mom, Ellen, you would immediately know why Chris is all of the things I described above. Ellen is a phenomenal mother and business woman who orchestrated what is now known as Chris’ legacy event: The Giant’s Head Grind – Christopher Walker Memorial Race. Each year on May Long weekend hundreds of people come together to “Climb the Giant” from the beach to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain in beautiful Summerland, BC. The race is just over 5.6 km long and has 500m in elevation gain – a feat not for the faint of heart. In 2016, a bike race leg was introduced which adds an even greater athletic element to an already challenging race. However, while the race is a great display of athleticism, it is truly a family friendly event where everyone can come together and celebrate a really wonderful soul. Chris wasn’t much for the limelight, and I often wonder what he’s thinking when he looks down at us behind the start line every year in May.
Ellen channeled her grief into this event and into making an incredible impact in the community. The Summerland Rotary Club utilizes the funds raised for Colon Cancer detection, diagnostics and research. In addition, the funds are used for the continued upkeep and improvement of the trail system in Giant’s Head Park. As young adults, Chris and I spent quite a few hours running the trails on that mountain – or more correctly, I spent a lot of time trying my best to catch him as he was infinitely more fit than me.
I am always floored by the staggering rate at which colon cancer cases are growing among young adults, and this past year it again hits close to home. A report published last February shows that colon cancer rates are rising among younger people. Thanks to better screening, overall cases have been declining since 1975 EXCEPT in the 20-39 year old group. In the 1980’s colon cancer affected less than 1% of the population in that age group, however, this has now more than doubled and is currently at 2.4% of the population. While early detection is key when treating colon cancer, this is difficult for the younger population as they aren’t receiving regular colonoscopy’s and therefore the symptoms may not provide reason for alarm until the cancer is quite progressed. If you ever experience symptoms that are causing concern do not hesitate to get checked!
This May will be the fifth year that Ellen and her husband, Tom, have brought together a community of participants, volunteers and locals for a weekend-long event that is celebrating Chris’ memory, creating new memories and contributing to a future that is colon-cancer free. We hope you can join us….
Click the link below to register for the run, the bike or both. If you are unable to attend you can still “Donate Now”!!