Lizzy Baril has already put a ton of kilometres on her bike as well as walking this summer and has plans for many more, all for a good cause.
Baril is a Special Olympics Alberta athlete from Red Deer and is participating in the organization’s 2021 Virtual Summer Series Alberta Law Enforcement Torch Run event.
The series-style fundraising event is comprised of three legs, with biking, walking and running.
The biking leg goes from July 5-26, but participants can log kilometres in either the run or walk throughout the summer until Sept. 6.
Baril has already logged 77 kilometres on the bike and did a nearly seven-kilometre hike earlier this week. She figures she’s already close to or over 100 kilometres between biking and walking so far.
“I’m just taking it day after day and seeing how many KMs I can get to get trained before fall comes around, that’s my main goal for participating,” she said.
She originally set a fundraising goal of $100, but has already raised $580 and has plans to keep going.
“The fundraising has been a bonus… it’s something that has become a bigger project but it’s been awesome to be involved in,” she said.
The 28-year-old got involved with Special Olympics after starting out as a volunteer.
Baril suffers from 22q11 deletion syndrome, which is a disorder that deletes a small piece of chromosome 22. For Baril, that has manifested itself into a heart defect, leading to four different heart surgeries, including open-heart surgery in 2019.
“That was the year I figured out I could join, but I didn’t join because I went for open-heart surgery. I volunteered a little bit before registered to be an athlete. My last surgery was in January 2019 and then I joined in September,” she said.
Baril hasn’t always been very vocal about her condition but hopes by sharing her story about her condition, she can help create more awareness about the challenges.
“I want to help people become more aware of this diagnosis. Everyone’s individual health journey with it looks so different,” she said.
After finishing the summer series training, Baril said she plans to get back in the pool this fall and continue competing as a swimmer with Special Olympics Alberta.
She explained that the pandemic has been difficult, as pools have been closed mostly throughout the past year and a half. That made her more motivated than usual to get involved with the summer series.
“I haven’t been doing much during the pandemic. I’ve been an avid exercise person, as far as staying on top of my health. Not being in the swimming lanes has really impacted that. Just trying to really go for it before I get (back) into the swimming lanes,” she said.
“It’s getting me ready and retrained and refocused on why I’m in Special Olympics.”
To donate, go to www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/albertatorchrun/virtual-summer-series/