Runners and walkers in Sydney, Cape Breton will pay tribute to Emma van Nostrand Wednesday night in a Memorial run for the teen.
The 18-year-old collapsed a few kilometres from the finish line during the Toronto Marathon on May 5. She was pronounced dead in hospital.
An autopsy revealed she died of a heart abnormality.
Emma van Nostrand came from a family of runners.
Her mother, Kathy, said the memorial run is important because her daughter wouldn’t want people to be afraid of participating in sports.
"We do believe that certainly an active lifestyle promotes active living, and a sedentary lifestyle does nothing to the positive," said Kathy van Nostrand. "Emma would have wanted people to become, and stay, active."
Steve van Nostrand, Emma's father, said it was important for them to get the message out. He said he heard of a parent who wanted their child checked by a doctor before participating in a race. He cautioned that Emma's case was the exception.
"The condition that Emma had is so rare and so undetectable," he said. Doctors told van Nostrand that tests likely would not have revealed Emma's heart condition.
Steve van Nostrand said the idea of a memorial run came up a few days after her death. Members of the community asked permission to organize it.
"We're really, really happy to be doing that, because it was just one more thing to honour and remember our daughter," he said. "She would think it was fantastic."
The teen was involved in several groups in the community. The honours student played piano, and participated in several sports.
"It was important for us that it becomes a community event and gets the community involved," said Kathy van Nostrand. "People obviously have shown us support in a way that we couldn't imagine."
The family hopes the run will inspire people in the community to be active.
"You've gotta live life," said Steve van Nostrand. "There's always risk in life."
Participants are expected to gather at Riverview High School, where Emma was set to graduate in the coming weeks. Donations for a scholarship in Emma's memory will be accepted at the run.