News Local

Heater's Heroes is all for the kids

By Matt Day, Ottawa Sun

MATT DAY/NIAGARA FALLS REVIEW
Mike Strange wears his Heater's Heroes t-shirt at Oakes Park in preparation for Saturday's second annual event, raising money for Heartland Forest.

MATT DAY/NIAGARA FALLS REVIEW Mike Strange wears his Heater's Heroes t-shirt at Oakes Park in preparation for Saturday's second annual event, raising money for Heartland Forest.

NIAGARA FALLS - 

Mike Strange is hoping to carry his Box Run momentum into his next fundraising event.

On Saturday,  the second annual Heater's Heroes Run for Children will be taking place at Oakes Park.

Last year's event raised $26,000 for Tender Wishes, a foundation geared towards granting wishes to children in the Niagara Region who suffer from a potentially life-threatening illnesses, and Strange said he's hoping to use his newly acquired local celebrity status to bring in even more money for a new charity, Heartland Forest, a barrier-free outdoor activity area.

"It feels good to see the difference you can make in other people's lives," said Strange on Monday, as he and his committee continued to organize the afternoon event. "I know I'm the face to this, but the committee has been working really hard on this."

The Heater's Heroes event will begin at noon and feature seven different laps, or "miles", in honour of people who battled illnesses or life-altering ailments including Strange's own inspiration Kelsey Hill, a Ridgeway girl who died from cancer in December.

Children battling terminal illnesses, life-altering illnesses or disabilities, will walk together on the oval track with hundreds of people cheering them on.

"It's great to see the faces on these kids when they pass the finish lines. It's almost like they ran a marathon too. I know it's only one lap, but it means a lot to them," said Strange.

A representative from Childhood Cancer Canada will be on hand for the Box Run "mile" where Strange will hand over a cheque with the final amount raised from his memorable run.

The event continues into the night with live music, a beer tent, children's activities and other demonstrations.

Strange is hoping to see thousands of people this year and said this year's benefactor was chosen because of the opportunities it gives to all children.

Heartland Forest offers two kilometres of wheelchair accessible hiking trails, butterfly garden, larger than life animal carvings, barrier-free mini-putt and "one of the largest tree-houses in Canada" which offers a panoramic view of the forest.

"It's all free and just a great place for kids to go," said Strange.

Heater's Heroes is a free event held in honour of Bob "Heater" Lavelle. Lavelle died of cancer three years ago at 60 years old after spending a good portion of his life giving back to the community.

Heater's Heroes at a glance:
When: Saturday, Aug. 11 beginning at noon
Where: Oakes Park
Why: In honour of Bob "Heater" Lavelle to raise money for Heartland Forest
What's on tap: Jay Cochrane with skywalk demonstrations, live music, beer tent, Niagara Inflatables, Niagara Falls Canucks meet and greet, and Spiderman

matt.day@sunmedia.ca
Twitter: @Matt_Review

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