Fuelling the fight against cancer: Scott Kannata Runs 8,500 KM across Canada in 8 ½ month


“I live to run and I run to live; now it’s time to run so others can live.” - Scott Cannata

“I live to run and I run to live; now it’s time to run so others can live.” – Scott Cannata

So far only a handful of Canadians with an iron resolve to inspire and motivate others for a great cause could manage to finish a St. Johns to BC coast cross Canada run. Scott is one of them who decided to take the longest route to cover all major population centers resulted a run that stretched 8525KM or 202 marathons.

Having 2 younger sisters, at age 12 Scott finds out his mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer. “I have been running for as long as I can remember” is Scott’s narrative. He combines his love for running with the passion to help people and embarks into “Unthinkable”!

Exhausting 18 pairs of shoes along with 19 flat tires for the crew’s truck are just few highlight of this journey. Running in temperatures plummeting down to minus 30 degree Celsius in Prairies and in knee deep snow-covered tracks in Alberta and Rockies are others. He made it and on January 16, 2012 he finished his ‘Run to Live’ fundraising mission. The assignment he took on 8 ½ month earlier on May 1, 2011 came to an end and with it he crashed the sense of helplessness he felt at age 12. Love of his mother and later to his fellow citizens turned him to a great inspirational Canadian personality who motivates others to help themselves and their loved ones who suffer.
I sat down with him to share his story of hope and fundraising with Salam Toronto readers.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your motivation.

A: I was born in Scarborough, Ontario in 1986.  I attended school in North York and Scarborough before moving to Durham to finish elementary and secondary school.  I attended Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario in 2005 in pursuit of my BSc in Physical Anthropology.  

I have always been active.  I started playing soccer at age 4 and continued to a competitive level until age 16.  I competed in track & field, cross country, swimming and competitive mountain biking.  
I am a personal trainer, and have experience coaching youth and adults in various fitness programs that I have created.
I was motivated to run across Canada by my personal hero, Terry Fox, and by my family’s history with the disease [cancer].  

Scott Cannata (Left) and Mashoud Nasseri (Right)

Scott Cannata (Left) and Mashoud Nasseri (Right)

When I was twelve, my mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  News like this will always be rough on a family, but the worst part of it all, is the uncertainty that comes along with this disease.  You cannot control the disease manifestation, nor can you control the outcome.  On top of all of this, I didn’t understand what cancer was at the time.  It was a scary and I (personally) was overcome with a feeling of helplessness.  I greatly dislike the stigma that surrounds this disease, because of the previously mentioned feelings.  My mother has been in remission for 11 years…
Further to my mother’s ordeal with cancer, my paternal grandfather battled this disease as well.  It was a very difficult time for my family (yet again) and did not carry the same happy ending. Once again, I was overcome with a feeling of helplessness.  

In September of 2009, I successfully ran a 100-Mile trail race in Haliburton Forest, Ontario.  Upon completion, I realized that I could do anything that I put my mind to.  I decided to run across Canada because I believed that I could.  I knew that I had the determination to conquer this country on foot and the reason for me doing so would carry me even further.  

Q: What are the highlights of your 8.5 month run on inspiring spectators and people and the hardship you endured and wilderness you crossed?

A: Having such a concentrated population density compared to the rest of Canada, Toronto (and area) offered a vast majority of the support that we received.  While running through downtown Toronto last August, a number of people joined me.  We had police and fire escorts and essentially shut down the streets that we travelled on.  One specific memory from this time that was inspiring to me was two children who were with their parents on the sidewalk as we approached.  The kids each held out a Toonie as I approached and handed them to me.  I was inspired to see parents instilling such good characteristics on their children.  
We had many adventures while on the road.  They tended to happen on an ongoing basis once winter hit us.  While heading through the mountain pass on Highway 1, through the Rockies, the shoulder that I once ran on was no longer plowed and the truck and trailer that would normally follow me had to drive ahead.  I was in a situation where I had to carry supplies for myself (first aid, food, water, survival kit) in case an avalanche hit and separated the crew from myself.  I spent up to 16km alone running in the very-snowy ditch next to the highway because the truck had to travel that distance to find a place to pull over safely.  They days were long and very difficult to get through.

Q: Is there any movie or documentary is being made on your cross Canada run that will be on festivals or TV channel(s) and when to expect it?

A: The Documentary is now finished and is being submitted to film festivals throughout North America.  I haven’t seen it yet, only the producers and editors have seen it.  There might be opportunity for the documentary to appear on TV, but that will have to be down the road (after the film-festivals) if a broadcaster likes it and decides to pick it up.

Q: Do you have any message for Salam Toronto readers?

A: My message to Salam Toronto readers would be the same as to every other Canadian citizen; to embrace the sense of community and work together to make positive change.  Without an incredible crew behind me, I could not have run across the country, and without many strangers who raised money and spread the word, we could not have had the success with the campaign that we did.  We are capable of so much positive change in the world if we work together.

I will also encourage readers to try despite hesitations.  Don’t let a fear of failing interrupt your ability to do good.  Give yourself the opportunity to succeed by trying; even if the chance of failure is high.

Q: Any other remark or message you may have?

We all have something to give and to be grateful for.  When given the opportunity to better the lives of those around you, do so, it is worth much more than the time and effort.

For more information about the run and the trailer for the documentary, please visit www.theruntolive.com


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