by Stephen Dafoe
Putnam and Lawson partner Andrew Lawson will join four friends from Calgary in cycling 300 kilometres through Guatemala as a fundraiser for Cause Canada and maternal health. The group leaves Sept. 27 and returns Thanksgiving weekend.
No stranger to athletics, the 60-year-old barrister said he has been an avid runner for the last decade. He has run in the Chicago and Boston Marathons and the Rim to Rim to Rim event at the Grand Canyon.
“I’m getting on in years, but I have determined that age shouldn’t impact on the ability to engage and enjoy,” Lawson said. “I’ve always run recreationally. I find it is a great way of combining exercise and relieving stress. It’s a great running community as well; it pulls people together. When I turned 50, I began to run a little more, and began to become a little more competitive.”
Lawson said when he is running on single track trails; he feels alive. “I know I’m alive,” he said. “All your senses are alert and active and happening. It’s just a way for me of enjoying nature. There are three components to happiness from what I’m told: nature, physical exercise and community. I find that running combines or does a good amalgam of all of those.”
Last summer Lawson teamed up with some Calgary friends that call themselves Old Guys in Action. The group went to Kenya and ran with some people there, but a return fundraiser was not in the cards this year.
“We were planning on a fundraising marathon for Kenya, but political instability and organizational problems arose,” he said.
Instead, Old Guys in Action will do their athletic fundraising in Central America this year. The trip coincides with a federal grant currently available that will match each dollar raised with $6.50 from the feds.
“It’s to assist new moms with new infants,” Lawson said. “It’s an interesting opportunity to dovetail physical exertion and challenges with a great cause.”
The Old Guys in Action will fly to Guatemala City and travel with their bikes to Todos Santos to begin their 300-km cycling trek.
“It’s not so much the distance because it’s only 300 kilometres,” Lawson said. “It’s at a high altitude [atmosphere] with a lot of elevation.”
The group is looking to raise $40,000 for Cause Canada, monies that will multiply to $260,000 with the matching federal grant.
Cause Canada — Christian Aid For Under-Assisted Societies Everywhere — has been in the area for five years running prenatal health centres. The funds will help the organization in the development and provision of maternal health care.
“If we can each raise ten grand each, that’s the goal,” Lawson said. “It’s challenging but achievable.”
Those interested in supporting Lawson and Cause Canada can do so online at www.cause.ca/donate.