Taryn Richdale was among the first to participate in the Victoria marathon in a regular wheelchair after Lifetime Networks

Taryn Richdale was among the first to participate in the Victoria marathon in a regular wheelchair after Lifetime Networks

Saanich charity team breaks down barriers

One of the marathon’s first regular wheelchair participant returns to race

Taryn Richdale didn’t prepare for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon like others who passed the finish line last October, but she did set a course record.

Richdale, a 23-year-old Colwood woman, was the first person in a regular wheelchair to join a team for the eight-kilometre road race, alongside her mother and a support worker.

Richdale wanted to be with her peers on the team for Lifetime Networks Victoria, a Saanich-based charity devoted to building social networks for people with developmental disabilities, but until 2010, only those in designed racing wheelchairs were allowed on the course.

GoodLife has since extended their insurance policy to allow for wheelchairs of all kinds on the scenic waterfront route.

“I was there to support her, not as a worker, but to be with this lady,” said Loreta Piamonte, a community support worker who has worked with Richdale two years. “At the finish, she just smiled (and said), ‘We did it.’”

Richdale, despite feeling a little nervous and overwhelmed by the size of the event, is excited to hit the 8K course again in her motorized chair adorned with Canucks stickers and her pink purse slung over one arm rest, as a message to others.

“Nothing’s impossible,” said Richdale, who after a tracheotomy speaks primarily in sign language. “Everything’s possible. There is no limit. You can accomplish your dreams.”

Richdale is one of 53 people,13 of whom are facing physical or developmental challenges, who are running, walking or rolling for Lifetime Networks Cruisers – the largest charity team in the marathon, for the smallest charities registered.

In the last two years Lifetime Networks has raised $51,000 to support clients through the GoodLife Fitness event. This year the charity has set the goal of raising $30,000 to launch an endowment fund and ensure their work can continue.

Saanich News editor Edward Hill and reporter Natalie North will be participating in the marathon and half-marathon races, respectively, for the Lifetime Networks team.

For more information on Lifetime Networks or how to donate to the team, visit lifetimenetworks.org or canadahelps.com and search for Lifetime Networks under “How to Give” followed by “Make a Donation.”

To help buoy the Saanich News team’s fundraising efforts, check out canadahelps.org/gp/8975.