TORONTO, Canada – The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM), which showcases Toronto’s evolving waterfront, has just celebrated its 23rd anniversary. The marathon itself attracts elite athletes and along with its accompanying half marathon and 5K events draws more than 22,000 participants from 35 countries worldwide.
The Greek community has forged a special relationship with the organizers of the STWM through its participation in a variety of events including the annual flame ceremony, its past participation in the Neighbourhood Challenge fundraising event, and through its production of the festive “Greektown” Neighbourhood Challenge Cheering and Entertainment Centre – a shared effort by four Hellenic organizations plus the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT).
Seeking to explore an opportunity to grow its representation at the marathon events, which in effect creates a wider base of fundraisers actively collecting pledges for the community, the GCT registered for the first time for the Charity Challenge. The success of the Charity Challenge, which helps to support more than 125 community charities, has grown steadily and a record 3.5 million dollars was raised in 2011.
On a chilly October 20 morning, some GCT members made their way down to the start line to participate in the 5K run/walk while another member, the sole participant in the half-marathon, made his way there. Dr. Anastassios Karantonis, a former GCT president, and Toronto City Councillor Mary Fragedakis were two of the high-profile returning supporters representing the GCT at the 5K event. Their consistent support for a community that is working hard to build up its membership and recruit new volunteers in an ever-sprawling city that has seen Canadians of Hellenic descent move further and further away from the city core is a source of pride for the GCT.
Karantonis once again was the highest-earning fundraiser with pledges totaling more than $6000 (Canadian). Fragedakis, with a running time of 00:36:06 in the 5K, had by far the best time of the day. Stavros Dalakouras of the Canadian Hellenic Congress of Ontario had to withdraw partway through the half-marathon and, unfortunately, was unable to finish the race.
The rest of Team GCT, myself included, walked from Exhibition Place to old Toronto City Hall and we fulfilled our mission to register, fundraise, and race! The unexpectedly cold weather kept coming up in conversation but did not dampen our spirits as we were proud to be representing our community and ready to celebrate our fundraising success. The team included three young children in strollers so we paced ourselves, enjoyed the brightening colours along our Toronto skyline, and made our way to the finish line. At 9:10AM, 70 minutes after departing from Exhibition Place, we had reached the finish line and were already planning for the 2014 marathon. The congratulatory messages had been trickling in from family, friends, and coworkers who had sponsored us and were monitoring our social media updates along the way.
GCT President Andonis Artemakis shared his own personal message of congratulation along with the news that we had officially surpassed our original fundraising goal of $15,000. As of October 24, more than $20,000 in pledges had been received by the Greek Community of Toronto – a significant improvement upon any previous year. Together, we discussed continuing our marathon promotion straight through to the October 31st deadline for registered charities participating in the Charity Challenge.
As we returned home and watched the race updates to hear who made it to the podium, we learned about more good news for the Greek Community of Toronto. For the second year in a row the “Greektown” Neighbourhood Challenge Cheering and Entertainment Centre, one of twelve such Cheering Stations in the diverse neighborhoods along the marathon route had won first prize. The $6000 winnings would be shared between the GCT and the other founding Hellenic organizations that were involved in developing the Cheering Station, with financial support provided by the Greektown on the Danforth BIA. These founding organizations include, The Hellenic Hope Centre, The Hellenic Home for the Aged, The Greek Community of Mississauga and Prophet Elias Church, and the Greek Orthodox Community of Markham, Saints Panteleimon, Anna, and Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Church.
For full race results and more information about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, visit: http://www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com
Congratulations to the Greek Community of Toronto racers who joined me in taking part in the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon: Dr. Anastassios Karantonis, Councillor Mary Fragedakis, Stavros Dalakouras, “DPD” (13 months), “AZ” (3 ½ years), Fani Trifonidis-Douldouras, John Douldouras, Evangelos Kosmatos (11 months), Liana Alonistiotis-Kosmatos, Dennis Kosmatos, Voula Themeliopoulos, Peter Themeliopoulos, and Vicky Kosmatos-Stergiou.