With the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend just around the bend, runners and non-runners alike were reminded Tuesday night of what they’re capable of achieving, whether it’s pushing one’s body to the next level or finding cures for currently incurable diseases.
PWL Capital hosted a special event in support of Team Stemcellarators, a group of runners that will be pounding the streets during race weekend to raise funds for stem cell research at The Ottawa Hospital. The Run for a Reason team is captained by well-known radio host, entrepreneur and Long Road to Boston author Mark Sutcliffe, who’s going the full 42K.
On the top floor of the Carling Avenue office building, with views that include the site approved for the new Ottawa Hospital, attendees were awed and inspired by modern-day adventurer Ray Zahab.
His story is nothing short of remarkable. Zahab is a former cigarette-smoking slouch who's become famous for becoming an ultramarathoner in his late 20s. He's been pushing himself to the max by crossing the Sahara Desert and trekking through some of the most inhospitable environments in the world. He's clocked daily distances of up to 80K in extreme climate conditions.
“Human beings have no limits to what we’re capable of achieving,” the Chelsea, Que.-resident told the room. “If people say, ‘You can’t do it’ then you say, ‘Let me show you’, and then find a way. There’s always, there’s always a way.”
Zahab is also the founder of the impossible2Possible (i2P) non-profit that takes young people on life-changing expeditions, while also using technology to allow other young people to follow along, back in the classrooms. In May, he’s leading a special expedition for Canada’s 150th anniversary that will see a group of young people, from around the world, visit every province and territory.
Zahab’s preferred mode of travelling is on foot, due to its ability to take him places where most people have never been and may choose to never go. After all, he almost froze to death this past winter trekking on snowshoes and pulling all of his supplies on sled through the Torngat Mountain range located in Northern Labrador and Quebec. While checking if the ice was safe, it suddenly gave way and Zahab found himself in water, struggling against a fast-moving current and gripping onto the sides for dear life. His thoughts naturally turned to his wife and two young daughters. He got himself out of the dangerous hole with help from his Italian travelling companion.
On hand for the event that night was Dr. Michael Rudnicki, a senior scientist and director of the Regenerative Medicine Program and the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
Ottawa is a hub for stem cell research medicine within a country that prides itself as being a world leader and pioneer in the field. “It’s been said that if hockey is Canada’s sport, stem cell research is Canada’s science,” Rudnicki told the room.
“It’s changing the practice of medicine, and in your lifetimes you’re going to see new treatments for many diseases that before had no treatment for them. And may I use the 'c word'? We'll see cures, for diseases that were fatal."