Metis teen raises over $10K running for Drag the Red
Kayleen McKay's run raised awareness about missing and murdered indigenous people
Kayleen McKay ran 450 kilometres in 11 days to honour her cousin Shawn Nepinak, who took his own life in the Red River in 2015.
His body was found by Drag the Red, a volunteer search group that uses hooks and chains to drag the bottom of the river.
"At first I thought it would just be a run to honour my cousin, then it grew into something much bigger than that," said McKay.
McKay, 18, left her Metis community of Duck Bay on April 30. She ran 45 kilometres a day, through The Narrows, down the east side of Lake Manitoba.
Along the way, she met many people touched by the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. She said many stopped her to share their stories.
"Every time I heard a new story I would just keep it in the back of my head," she said. "When I felt down I would just think of them and their families because I knew they were sending strength and prayers along the way and it just gave me that push to keep going."
McKay was accompanied by her father and brother, who drove in vehicles in front and behind her as she ran.
The run was also a fundraiser for Drag the Red. McKay said it was a way to say thank you to the volunteers for helping find her cousin.
The Manitoba Metis Federation helped support and promote McKay's run. It also donated over $6,000 to her cause, bringing the total to more than $14,000 and growing.
"I was really happy because I reached beyond my goal," she said. "I'm really proud of myself and I know everyone is really proud of me."
Members of Drag the Red sang an honour song for McKay.
McKay and her father plan to go shopping for a new boat with the money they raised, so Drag the Red can have a reliable ride this summer.