Michelle Carduner brushed a forefinger along a magazine photo of men in their mid-20s bunched together, smiling before they set off for a run.
She draws inspiration from the picture, taken prior to the 2012 Army Run in Ottawa.
These arent your every day runners theyre wearing carbon fibre prosthetics running blades, the kind you see sprinters use in Paralympic events.
Each of these runners has lost legs in combat.
Carduner, a 54-year-old Langley realtor, feels connected to the veterans and soldiers who each year run side-by-side with civilians in a major fundraiser supporting Soldier On and the Military Families Fund.
Soldier On provides resources and opportunities for serving and retired Canadian Forces personnel with a permanent or chronic illness or injury, to actively participate in physical, recreational or sporting activities.
All of the money raised from the registration fees and from the pledges goes to support military families and veterans who have been ill or perhaps disabled, said Carduner, who plans to take part in this years run Sept. 22 in Ottawa. This is a chance to give back to our military.
Over the next six months, Carduner hopes to raise $10,000 through online pledges.
Shes fundraising in memory of Canadian Forces Pte. Garrett Chidley, a 21-year-old from Langley who was killed by a landmine in Afghanistan on Dec. 30, 2009. Chidley was driving a light armoured vehicle when it was ripped apart by an explosion.
I know $10,000 is a lofty goal, but when I think of the young soldier who lost his life at 21 years of age, of the vets that come home permanently changed and what their families go through while they are overseas serving, and then trying to come home and return to a normal life I would love to challenge Langley to meet and beat that goal, she said.
The Army Run offers half marathon and five kilometre routes.
An experienced runner, Carduner plans on tackling the half marathon.
She registered for the 2012 Army Run but a sore hip kept her grounded in Langley.
This year Carduner will be among potentially 22,000 participants (the run is capped at 12,000 for the five kilometre run and 10,000 for the half marathon).
Shell be alongside able-bodied and disabled veterans, some of whom will be in wheelchairs, using prosthetics, or riding hand-operated bicycles.
Carduner said it will be an honour to be in their company.
I think that in todays society the military is seen in such a different way, Carduner said. They are coming back emotionally changed forever. Physical injuries are one thing; emotional injuries are another.
Many soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning home from dangerous missions overseas. Carduner, herself, has suffered from PTSD.
She deals with PTSD and anxiety every day as a result of years of past abuse.
I truly understand what it means like for them and the stigma attached to having that in their life, and how hard it is for people to understand, Carduner said. My heart goes out to them for what they have to cope with.
Through Facebook, Carduner has already connected with people who are planning on doing the run.
I think this is going to be a life-altering weekend, she said.
To support Carduner, email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she can email the link directly to her donation page.
To link to her donation page, visit http://www.runningroom.com/dashboard/donations/athletelist.php, click on find an athlete, and type in Michelle Carduner.
I would really like to stress that there is no small donation as every dollar adds up, said Carduner, who is no stranger to the work involved in fundraising.
She has participated Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure, and been part of three Relay for Life fundraisers, locally.
She says she is retiring from Relay For Life.
Im too old to stay up all night in the freezing cold, she said.
Most recently, she did the 10k route at the Fort Langley Historic Half, that started and finished inside the palisade walls of the Fort Langley National Historic Site on Feb. 17.
Running is an outlet for Carduner, who laces up her shoes and heads outdoors in the early morning hours five days a week, on average.
Ive run for years for my own personal health, emotionally and physically, she said. Through the Running Room, they have runs almost every month. I run every day unless its miserable. I like to be outside and I like to be physically healhty.
Carduner said running is addicting.
Its so good for my mental health and emotional health, she said. It helps with my anxiety. At six oclock in the morning, the world is really quiet. Its so awesome.
On occasion shes joined by her three-year-old golden retriever Esme, but the canine is more of a fair weather runner, Carduner shared.
A kilometre in she decides shes not going to run, so we have to turn around, Carduner said.
@ Copyright 2013