The power of friendship

West Island woman runs seven half marathons in six months for fallen friend 

By Jim Morrison

DDO resident, Debbie Elvidge, took the meaning of philanthropy to a new level by completing seven half marathons in six months across North America in 2013. Elvidge first caught the running bug at John Rennie High School in Pointe Claire, where she competed locally and at the municipal levels, in circuit training, and endurance.

Elvidge met Diane Gillies, her source of inspiration, shortly after high school.

“Diane was a bit older, and I’d see her run around the neighborhood in Pointe Claire. Our paths criss-crossed and she was a regular customer at the store where I worked,” Elvidge told The Suburban.

After Gillies lost her battle to leukemia, at age 47, in January 2012, Debbie decided to step up to honor her.

Elvidge enlisted the guidance of Team in Training, whose mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

“I wanted to do my own thing. Team in Training was behind me, so I decided to map out my seven destinations, with my launch being in May, on my birthday,” Elvidge said. Her quest began in Toronto in early May, followed by stops in Boston, May 30, Whistler, B.C., June 4, Mad River, Vermont, Aug. 10, Quebec City, Aug. 26, Army Half marathon, Ottawa, Ont., Oct. 6, and concluding in Albany, N.Y., Nov. 3. 

“She’s very goal oriented and has no problem working hard to get where she needs to go. And she always has a “bring it on!” attitude. Not only is she enthusiastic about her own training, she manages to spread that enthusiasm and encourage others to get fit as well.” said Barb Kaminer, Elvidge’s personal trainer.

“Debbie and I were running buddies for a few years until knee issues forced me to stop running and become a walker, I can tell you I lived vicariously through her and each of her half marathon races! She is a person who inspires others with her “pay it forward” way of living. I was honoured to have her by my side once again at the Army half marathon this past September, my first walking race! The positive energy and “just get it done” attitude she exudes push me to aim higher, not to mention we are both somewhat competitive so thanks to her pacing we exceeded my goal for that race so much so that I am walking my first full marathon in May.” added Jackie St-Laurent, one of Debbie’s volunteers.

Debbie raised $4,400 with her efforts, which went directly to the Leukemia foundation.
“I am even more grateful for the ability to continue changing my little corner of the world that seems to be getting bigger. If everyone can continue working on their little corners, imagine the overall good we will do. Diane’s soccer team had dedicated a bench in her memory at Terra Cotta Park in Pointe Claire. After my lengthy break from running, I took my first run around the field and sat on Diane’s bench. Not only does she have a great view of the soccer fields but she also can provide strength and motivation to all the runners who use that park on a regular basis. Full circle–the reliable jogging girl has gone from physically running the streets of the West Island to ensuring her spirit is with each and everyone of us.” stated a beaming Elvidge.

Debbie’s journey can be viewed at

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