Many kids look up to professional athletes as role models, but for the 27-year-old Surrey, B.C., runner Josh Sloan, it was the person who taught him how to run. Six years ago, Sloan lost his former teacher, role model and friend Debbie Kovacs to cancer. Last week, Sloan completed his goal of running 100 miles in two months as a tribute to his teacher, raising over $20,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Sloan set a goal of running 20 kilometres each week. He began to gain a following as members of the local Surrey fire department and friends and family of Kovacs joined him.
Wishing you the best, Joshua! We're so inspired by his commitment. It means so much to see how he's inspiring so many in memory of his good friend and teacher. 💛
— Canadian Cancer Society (@cancersociety) November 20, 2021
Kovacs first taught Sloan when he was in Grade 2 and continued to teach him for six years at Surrey’s Simon Cunningham Elementary School. Kovacs played an instrumental role in Sloan’s life, teaching him how to read, write, and most importantly, how to run cross-country.
She helped Sloan fall in love with the sport, which eventually led him to Surrey’s regional Special Olympics. Sloan continues to run with the help of his sisters, keeping Kovacs’ spirit alive, singing a song they sang together on runs (“We Are the Champions” by Queen).
All the proceeds from Sloan’s fundraiser will support myeloma cancer research and programs. Donations can still be made on his fundraising page on the Canadian Cancer Society website.