OTTAWA RACE WEEKEND-charity challenge


I have a confession.

Well, two really.

I hate to admit this but I am NOT really into running. I do it because I know it’s good for you in more than ways than one. However, if I were to choose, this is not my first pick in physical activities – at all. I have been a Fitness Instructor and Yoga Teacher for over 10 years and have been certified at many types of fitness classes from spinning to weight training, from dance to yoga and to many more physical disciplines. Not chief amongst them – running. I have a number of dear friends and beloved students who are avid marathon runners and while I always support them and go out to cheer for them at race day, that running bug never bit me and after a debilitating knee injury, I’m not sure it ever will.

The second confession is also difficult to admit.


Everyone suffers the blues once in a while but sometimes, that feeling lingers. No one is immune to those feelings of depression, helplessness, failure and at times, hopelessness. No matter how successful you are, how old you are, man or woman, and I’m certainly not exempted. Far from it. By many standards, Twenty York Street (and all the other work I do simultaneously) is deemed successful. It has a strong following, a solid reputation and a wide reach due to multiple platforms that we’ve been given a privileged access to. We not only have this blog and all our social media accounts to share fashion and lifestyle news and updates in the city but we’ve also been fortunate to earn a reputation as established experts in our field thus, we also speak to our audience via print publication, radio and of course, television. Yet, there are times that I don’t feel it’s enough. There are times that I feel that strong societal pressure that I should be doing more.

But more success also means more sacrifices. It sounds cheesy but it’s true: with more power comes more responsibilities. All these endless events, galas, coverage, TV appearances, etc, are taking so much toll on my personal life. I was barely at home, barely spending time with loves ones and those moments that I do spend with him and with them, I was busy texting, tweeting or posting from under the dinner table as those articles aren’t going to published themselves. I was there but never really ‘there.’

It was all too much and despite all the connectivity 24/7, I started feeling disconnected.

And anxious. And depressed.



When I received the invitation to be part of the very FIRST EVER Scotiabank Celebrity Media Challenge (#SCOTIACHALLENGE) during the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (where invited members of the media were challenge to run for their chosen charity for the chance of raising more funds, winning their category – 5K, 10K, Half or Full Marathon), I was very hesitant. There wasn’t enough time, my asthma is getting worst, I’m so ridiculously busy, I’m great at supporting friends on their fundraising but I was never good at it myself – these were the reasons that held me back from saying yes.  But then I remember all of the above confessions and I changed my mind. There was always one local Twitter account that struck me, not only because they have quite an active presence online but also because I thought, if I was brave enough, this would be the place that I would call for help.



It was barely two weeks ago that I made that decision to say YES, I will run the 5K race for the #CharityChallenge on behalf of the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region, a 24/7 support and crisis line. I voiced my concern that I may not be able to raise a lot of money since there’s not enough time but I was told, Twenty York Street’s participation is beyond the financial contribution, By running for and talking about Distress Centre Ottawa, we are raising awareness for this charity that provides a place to those in need of someone to talk to, to call into, regardless of the time of day or night. By being part of the #CharityChallenge, we turn the spotlight to this charity and to the hundreds of highly trained (they are also trained with Applied Suicide Intervention Skills) Crisis Line Responder volunteers who offer emotional and mental health support to individuals needing a voice of support to talk – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.



First opened in March 1969, the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region serves those in need with the help of 100 volunteers answering calls. Since then, the Distress Centre has trained more than 3400 volunteers, answered over 1 million calls and has been the first point of contact for anyone experiencing distress or crisis in their lives. People call for various reasons – stress, anxiety, depression, mental health disorders (bipolar, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, etc) relationships, family, parenting, bullying, abuse (physical, mental or emotional) loneliness, grief & loss, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts, or attempts. Regardless of the issue, the 200+ volunteer team, who work on a 24/7 schedule, are there to answer the call, listen, and support the caller. They provide resources in the community, help someone come up with a plan for safety if they are feeling suicidal, help them deescalate stress & anxiety, and above all, simply be there for them and let them talk.

As human beings, our first inclination is to offer advice, however, this is not what they do at the Distress Centre Ottawa. They exist, first and foremost, to provide support.

To make a donation to the #CharityChallenge for the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region, please donate at Twenty York Street’s  fundraising page. Every contribution, big or small, truly helps and we want to THANK YOU very, very much for your financial donation.



Did you know that distress has no age limit? Distress Centre Ottawa callers range from 12 to 95 years of age, with a demographic of gender is 60% women, 40% men. Recently, the number of men calling is increasing, which is a good indication as it has always been harder in the past for men to reach out. Our society has made it out to be more that men are supposed to be strong and cannot express such emotions. But those who are picking up the phone to call the centre may feel like they are weak for calling – but it’s the complete opposite. These people are strong as it takes a lot of courage and strength to pick up the phone and call to talk to someone and admit you need help. This year alone, the centre will answer over 50,000 calls from people in our community. You never know who calls for distress – it could be your loved one, your neighbour, your friend or colleague. Debilitating mental, psychological or emotional distress, whether anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide, knows no boundaries. Will you help ensure that they can continue to provide such important service in our city? 

Please make a donation to the #CharityChallenge for the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region, please donate at Twenty York Street’s  fundraising page.


The number of callers is growing at the Distress Centre Ottawa year after year. They need our help to continue providing the help to those in distress in our community. To learn more about who they are and what they do, you can visit them here and follow them on Twitter here. We want to THANK our many friends, family and our thousands of followers who have helped in this campaign by donating to the Distress Centre Ottawa and by helping us spread the word. Please donate here if you haven’t already. I will be running on Saturday afternoon, if you are free, come and out and cheer the thousands of people running for a great cause on this city!


Whether you are running or cheering at this weekend’s Ottawa Marathon, we are very much looking forward to seeing you there. It will be a sea of runners from all walks of life, all levels of physical fitness and all will be running for personal reasons whether for themselves, their loved ones or their chosen charities. The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend promises to be a weekend of great accomplishment and lots of fun! Check out the entertainment schedule here, there are FREE live music show at the celebration stage with big names in music such as Roch Voisine, Cuff the Duke, Furious Gord and many others.

Will we see you there?


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