Winter solstice happens on Tuesday, Dec. 21, and the shortest day of the year marks the start of a lengthy challenge for Carley Billups.
The 43-year-old occupational therapist for School District 57 (Prince George) plans to run 1,000 kilometres in 13 weeks to raise money for the Variety Children’s Charity.
That’s like running all the way from Prince George to Trail in the West Kootenays or Dease Lake near the Yukon Border or to Olympia, the state capital of Washington, south of Seattle.
Her Winter Run Challenge for Northern BC Kids is raising money to pay for medical equipment, specialized therapies and autism assessment services for families in the north.
She plans to run six days a week and will have to average 77 km per week to reach her running goal.
All the money raised here stays in Prince George and Billup’s goal is to raise $5,000. As of Friday afternoon, she’d raised $775 through her Variety Club/Just Giving page.
Billups worked 11 years as a pediatric occupational therapist and has been with the school district for the past year. She’s seen how families are struggling to pay for medical appliances such as wheelchairs, specialty strollers, adaptive bikes and bathroom equipment that are not fully funded through the healthcare system.
“These are usually for kids with quite complex needs, like cerebral palsy and brain injury and things like that,” said Billups. “Basically, where medical funding steps and people need other funding, then they can apply through (the Variety Club).”
Billups was more of a cyclist but took up running later in life. She races with the Prince George Roadrunners and she’s hoping a few club members will join her on her runs, especially on weekends when she’s planning a few 20- or 25-km group runs. Her five-year-old standard poodle Rusty is certainly game to go out with her at any time. She’s got cleats for her runners to keep from slipping on ice and snow.
“Most of it will be my regular morning runs, I go all over town,” she said. “I do run all the time and I’ve been slowly increasing my mileage because I wanted to aim for 80 km a week to make sure I have a buffer. There might be a few days when it’s too cold or too much snow or it’s just not safe. It’s kind of crazy how little snow there is right now.”