By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
After more than 10 years on the job, Lee-Anna Poelman is stepping down as the chair of the Terry Fox Run.
“I was the chair of the committee for more than a decade, and I loved every minute of it,” says Poelman.
Five years ago, when Shalan Jankowski came on board the committee, Poelman knew she had potential to succeed her.
She explains Jankowski is “super keen” and so is her 16-year-old daughter, Jolie, who also participates in the run.
Over the last five years, Poelman says Jankowski and her daughter have shown a lot of interest and have had some great ideas.
“I thought it might be healthy for the run to have some new leadership and some new ideas, and give me a little bit of my time back,” Poelman explains.
Despite this, she plans to continue to contribute to the event. Her time as chair was amazing, she says, recalling the stories she heard from volunteers, participants, and donors about what Terry Fox means to them were always touching.
“I think I couldn’t sum it up any way other than ‘heartwarming’ to see the way the community has embraced Terry Fox, and continues to embrace him,” she says.
Often she’ll run into people who participated in the run while at the grocery store or around the city, and they will recognize her.
“It’s just really made Oshawa feel like an even better place for my family and I.”
This year she is coaching Jankowski and her daughter as they take over the run, but moving forward she expects to stay on the organizing committee in whatever role Jankowski sees fit.
“I’m just here to help her in any way possible, help the committee, and make sure the run continues to go off without a hitch,” she says. There are only four members on the organizing committee and three of them, including Poelman, have been around since 2007.
“It’s a very dedicated group of people,” she says.
Jankowski explains she took on the role because her daughter encouraged her to.
“Jolie and I are doing it as a team effort,” she says. “She’s been as excited about the run the last couple of years as I have, so when Lee-Anna first approached me about becoming chair, Jolie was actually the most excited.”
Jankowski’s goal is to appeal more to youth, and to get the next generation familiar with the Terry Fox Run.
She says she learned a lot from Poelman.
“Even through this process of handing off responsibility, anytime I have found myself doubting my ability, or my knowledge, she’s been right behind me,” Jankowski says. “She’s been a great cheerleader. She has taught me how to be a leader, and how to put Terry’s vision first.”