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Hundreds run, walk and jog in support of Dylan MacKinnon

FeaturesHundreds run, walk and jog in support of Dylan MacKinnon

Over 400 people attended the Miles for MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

Miles for MacKinnon, which raised over $20,000 for colon cancer research was created after 28-year-old Dylan MacKinnon, an officer with the OPP Emergency Response Team (ERT) West Region, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on November 23, 2023.

Dylan MacKinnon poses with his family members after crossing the finish line during the Miles For MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024. Pictured in photo, from (l-r): Anne Reinhardt, Jack MacKinnon, Jim MacKinnon, Dylan MacKinnon, Ashley Medeiros and their dog Ellie, Jessee Medeiros, Anabela Medeiros and Carlos Medeiros.

During the opening ceremonies of the event, OPP Chief Superintendent Dana Earley, who has worked with MacKinnon periodically throughout his seven-year career, approached the podium to speak about his overall character.

“His resiliency and determination are absolutely unbelievable, truly admirable,” said Earley. “He has proven time and time again that he could do hard things and true to his character, he became an officer to support others, he joined ERT to support others on a different level, and now he’s still supporting others through all of his challenges. Today is a remarkable example of that as he raises awareness and money for cancer.”

OPP Commissioner, Thomas Carrique, speaks about Dylan MacKinnon’s spirit, determination and courage during the Miles For MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

OPP Commissioner, Thomas Carrique, was also in attendance to speak about the young officer.  

“From speaking with Dylan, I know how much it has meant to him that Waterloo Regional Police, Brantford Police and his family, the Ontario Provincial Police, have rallied around him, leaned in and lifted him up,” said Carrique. “But let the truth be known, Dylan, you are the one that has lifted each and every one of us up. As Chief Earley has indicated, you exemplify courage, resilience and determination. Your warrior spirit will allow you to fight through and conquer anything and everything. …I know that you will continue to inspire me and everyone that is here to walk alongside you, on this momentous day as you head out and prove every doctor and every piece of research wrong. Your spirit, your determination, and your courage has brought you to this point and will continue to take you forward.”

After the opening ceremonies, around 388 registered participants headed out on the 5km route along the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail before heading back to cross the finish line.

Dylan MacKinnon shares a hug with his father Jim MacKinnon after crossing the finish line during the Miles For MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

Just one month before his diagnosis, MacKinnon began experiencing lower back and severe nerve pain.

“Following this, he developed a lump on his neck and lost a significant amount of weight. After numerous doctor visits, he was sent to get ultrasounds done, however, his pain became so intolerable that Dylan attended St. Mary’s Hospital Emergency Department and was admitted on November 20, 2023,” read the GoFundMe page created for MacKinnon. “On November 23, Dylan and his family received the worst possible news. …After many tests including a biopsy on his lymph nodes and CT scans, physicians discovered two cancerous tumours on his L1 and L2 vertebrae. The tumours were pressing on Dylan’s nerves in his lower back which caused him severe nerve and back pain. This made him immobile. A third tumour was located in his upper spine, along with cancerous lymph nodes in his neck and abdomen, and lesions on his liver.”

On November 28, MacKinnon received an invasive lower back surgery to repair the collapsed vertebrae, remove the tumours and stabilize his spine. Since then, he’s gone through six rounds of radiation and chemotherapy to further treat the cancer.

Dylan MacKinnon, an officer with the OPP Emergency Response Team (ERT) West Region, speaks about his stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis during the Miles For MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

Despite doctors saying he would never run again, MacKinnon was determined to re-learn how to walk and on Sunday, the officer managed to run 90 per cent of the 5km route.

“I didn’t run the whole way, I did take some walking breaks, but this is definitely the most that I have run since all this has happened. I’ve been doing a little bit here and there in a controlled environment on a treadmill at the gym, but to be out there on the trail today just felt amazing,” he said. “Throughout this whole thing, I’ve really leaned into my faith and it’s just taught me to stay present and be grateful for what I have and what I can do. This is just another thing that I can be grateful for, I’ve overcome another obstacle and now we’re on to the next one. Life is full of peaks and valleys, and we spend the majority of the time in the valleys but to be up on a peak today is just incredible.”

Officers with the tactical unit run through the finish line in full gear during the Miles For MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

During the event, participants raised nearly $25,000 towards colon cancer research and MacKinnon and his family are hoping to host the event for many years to come.

The officer said that while he never expected to be in this position, he was filled with immense gratitude for the family, friends, police officers and strangers who came out to support the fundraiser.

“Colon cancer is becoming a lot more common in young people, and we don’t know why but it’s really wonderful that everybody can get together like this and raise money for such a special cause,” he said. “I am so blessed to work for such a great organization that has supported me through all of this. For the Commissioner and Chief Superintendent to show up, it’s really special because they’re very busy people and it just shows how much they care about their people. The law enforcement community in general, always supports each other and we definitely have a special bond because you go into things at work together, that are oftentimes just crazy and dangerous situations, but knowing that we all have each other’s backs is very special.”

Nearly 400 participants head towards the Paris Rail Trail during the Miles For MacKinnon charity run at the Green Lane Sports Complex in Paris on Sunday, June 9, 2024.

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