Nicole Wataszko, 38, participated in Strides for Mackenzie Health for the first time in 2022.

With a passion for running and visiting Canada’s Wonderland, one of her favourite places on Earth, Nicole explains there is nothing better than doing what she loves in an environment where she finds happiness and comfort.

Strides marked her first 5K run for a fundraising event. Attending Strides meant proving to herself that she could complete the route, be motivated to try something new and overcome any self-doubt.

“I have anxiety, and like any form of mental health, I feel like most people are afraid to say they have it,” she says. “There are days that are better than others, and sometimes it feels like a rollercoaster. Being in my happiest place in the world took that anxiety away for the day and allowed me to just run.”

In addition to wanting to participate in a unique route at the park, Nicole registered to join Strides after learning about the inspiring patient stories and experiences at Mackenzie Health. At the event, she was also interested in learning how the hospital is leveraging smart technology to advance services and access to care.

“It’s amazing how many people came to support something like this. It’s a great cause, and being surrounded by more than 900 people who are filled with energy and cheering you on is a great feeling. For me, it proved to the world that it doesn’t matter if you’re not what the average person looks like; it shouldn’t stop anyone from accomplishing what they put their mind to.”