Timmins rallies around Special Olympian's quest to complete half-marathon
Special Olympian completes marathon, with plenty of help from the city
Timmins' Special Olympian Michael Blick wasn't going to let news of the cancellation of the Golden Trails marathon stop him from crossing the finish line.
Blick's friend and training partner Cheryl Allard said Blick, who is known around town for his support of and involvement in community events, was disappointed by the race's cancellation.
"I was disappointed for Mike, because he had prepared so hard for this," Allard said.
Blick trained throughout the winter for the race, and Allard walked him through 5 kilometre intervals of the course as the weather improved.
He had completed shorter walk-races, but Golden Trails was shaping up to be his first major marathon.
When news of the cancellation reached her, Allard put a call-out to Timmins' running community, asking if they would assist in putting on a walk-race for Blick to give him the opportunity of completing a major race.
"Within 24 hours I had enough volunteers," Allard said. "Friends were more than willing to direct traffic and cheer him on to the finish line during the race."
"And the city police, who know Mike extensively, also supported us by allowing officers to direct traffic at major intersections."
A little help from Facebook
The event was posted to Facebook by a friend of Allard's, and soon local TV crews and the newspaper were following Blick on his race.
A dozen runners followed Blick after he began, and encouraged him along to the finish line.
Allard said she was overwhelmed by the amount of support Blick received, but also wasn't surprised that the town rallied
"Mike knows everyone," Allard said. "He's at all community events, whether the Italian community festival or Stars and Thunder, even hockey players at all levels recognize him because he's at all the hockey games."
Up next, the Haunted Hustle
Another marathon on the horizon for Blick is Haileybury's 10 kilometre Haunted Hustle. Allard said the town reached out with an invitation for Blick when they heard of his intentions to compete before the racing season ends.
That particular runs also holds a special significance for Blick, as his mother, who died in 1992, is buried in the town.
Allard said she hopes his efforts can spread inspiration around his community. She said if Blick can achieve his goals, so can anyone else.
"It would be great if more in the community looked at Mike and said, 'I can do that, also.'"
with files from Wendy Bird