MARITIME RUNNER
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In memory of Jessica

About 500 expected for annual IWK 5K

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
June 2, 2017

BEDFORD, N.S. – This coming weekend is a busy weekend for Jennifer Manuel, but she likes it that way.
Not only is it the weekend of the annual IWK Telethon, which she supports every year in a big way, but it is also the time of year when she lost her baby daughter Jessica. She puts on a 5K run in memory of her daughter on this weekend every year, and with the IWK as the beneficiary.
Manuel had given birth to twin girls, Alyssa and Jessica, and they all received care at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
“Jessica passed away, but I had a lot of good care there even before the girls were born, and I wanted to do something to keep her memory alive,” she said.

The eighth annual IWK 5K – In Memory of Jessica will take place in Bedford, N.S. on Sunday, June 4. Shown here are participants in last year’s run.

Photo courtesy of IWK 5K on Facebook

A physiotherapist, Manuel is all about getting the community active, and a 5K run made sense. She had started to get into running shortly after leaving the hospital.
“I found that it was the only thing that made me feel like I was myself again,” she said. “It cleared my head and I felt like I could function better when I was running. So I started really enjoying being at running events, and that’s why I wanted to do some type of running or walking event.”
The plan was to keep it small, with just friends and family, and the first one lived up to that idea. About 80 participants came for the run along the beautiful Bedford waterfront.
But word got out, and the event did not stay small for long.
Last year, the IWK 5K – In Memory of Jessica, drew about 475 participants, and Manuel marveled at how much it has grown. She admitted it has become a lot to handle, but she does it for many reasons.
“I do to it to keep my daughter’s memory alive, and I do it to bring awareness to Twin Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which is what I was originally diagnosed with in the hospital, and prematurity,” said Manuel.
But it’s also become about more than that, she has discovered.
“When people lose a baby, they don’t talk about it a lot, and I’m trying to get people to feel OK with it,” she said. “I’ve had so many people I never met before come up to me or send me emails. They feel they have somebody they can talk to about it.”
On top of that, it’s about bringing the community together, something Manuel wants to see continue. In fact, her vision in the next couple of years will see more children and seniors doing the run together.
For this year, registration is already above 300, and she is hoping to push for 500 on the day of the event. More than $7,000 in fundraising has already been reached for this year, and the overall total from all years will reach close to $200,000 this year, according to Manuel. All of this has been done with no big sponsors, just race fees, donations and things like ticket sales.
After the run is finished and the amount has been tallied up, Manuel will head to the telethon and present the cheque.
“It’s exciting because it is on telethon weekend,” she said. “But it’s also the time of year my daughter passed away. I figured if I was really busy, it would help.”
The event will feature a 5K run/walk, a 1K run/walk, a 500m dash and a family fun run.
For more on the IWK 5K – In Memory of Jessica, visit here.