Kerri Kanuga only intended to raise a few thousand dollars to help children’s cancer research, but having completed her epic six mile swim across North Sound and then run the equivalent of four marathons stretching 106 miles, the figure has gone way beyond expectations.
Kanuga’s epic endurance challenge to mark her 45th birthday and to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which researches childhood cancer, had by Monday reached US$26,138 – and donations are still coming in.
Hannah Meeson, age 7, is one of the children in Cayman overcoming cancer benefiting from this fundraiser, aka Ker-a-thon.
Kanuga also raised more than US$5,000 last June when she swam 20 kilometers around Key West.
Kanuga is still overwhelmed by the massive response. “I really did not expect any of it and actually very surprised by it all,” she said.
“I was just doing my endurance thing and trying to raise some money for kids that need it. I did not think what I was doing was that big of a deal, just one or two days in my life.”
She added, “I was amazed by the support I received during the run, seeing people on the street with their kids and banners brought tears to my eyes more than once.
“Since the race, there have been a number of people who have called and come up to me to congratulate me. The best part of the recognition is that I think I was able to raise awareness for St. Baldrick’s and the children they help.”
Kanuga said she was amazed by how quickly she has recovered. She returned to work the day after completing the two-day slog last week. There were a few days when her knees were swollen, but a couple of “ice baths fixed that.”
She also had two nasty blisters under her big toenails which she will lose.
“Otherwise I am 100 percent and ready to get back to training this week.”
Her next sporting event is probably an open water swim this weekend of a modest length of 800 meters.
Her next ultimate test is likely to be the Keys 100, a 100-mile run from Key Largo to Key West starting on May 16.
“My mom is a huge support and shows up for my endurance events when she can,” Kanuga said. “She loves Bermuda so I plan on meeting her there for her birthday in October.”
There is also a local swimming event that has been on her bucket list for some time, which is a 10k around North Sound. “Maybe I will do a run after the swim,” she joked.
She added that the most pleasing aspect since Ker-a-thon was being voted Cayman 27’s Digicel sports person of the week.
“That was just crazy! It is something I would never expect in a million years.”
Kanuga added that she is grateful for all of the donations. “That is the best thing, every penny goes towards the fight against childhood cancer.
“I have also been told by a few people that I inspired them. That is a huge compliment, but really there is nothing special about me. If I can do it, anyone can! You just have to want to. If I have learned anything by doing this, it is that anything is possible.”
Her advice to anyone wanting to do something similar is to surround themselves with people who have done it before.
“No point in reinventing the wheel. I was amazed by the number of people that were willing to share their experience and knowledge to get me through this event.”
Kanuga suggests trying to volunteer on a crew at an endurance event.
“Your help is greatly appreciated and you can learn so much by observing.
“Also, be sure to train hard, even on days you don’t want to. I feel this is the reason I have recovered so well.”
Those interested in donating online should go to www.stbaldricks.org/donate/fundraiser/874/2015.