Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon / BTGYYZ Weekend


There is a well known saying within the global running community which is, “If you’re not running…you’re cheering”. I have never missed out on a race due to injury until now and have grown accustomed to pounding the pavement amongst thousands of other runners who rely on weeks of training and cheers from the crowd to get to the finish line. As an injured runner there are several phases of recovery that you go through and denial is part of that process. Once I passed the denial phase and realized that running in this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was no longer a reality, I decided to see what it was like on the other side.  Turning my focus to community, I channeled my energy for this year’s race into fundraising and cheering. Participating in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and raising money for the Children’s Wish Foundation opened my eyes to a whole other side of running. Plus, cheering with Parkdale Road Runners and NRC, I was part of the most epic cheer squad EVER at the 19km mark.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront MarathonWinner of the 2015 Toronto Waterfront Marathon 19 year old Shure Demise from Ethopia

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

To my surprise, witnessing 26,000 runners take on the course was much more powerful than any personal running experiences have been. Sure, running would have been rewarding, especially if I had PB’d or better yet BQ’d (Boston Qualified), but I became obsessed watching each runner pass me wondering what their story was, how they got to the start line, and who they were they running for. Were they running for themselves? Were they running to pace or support someone else’s goal? Or, to raise money or awareness for a charity? STWM is remarkable because you see participants at all levels from Elites to beginners, running or walking everything from a 5k to a full marathon. Known for being flat and fast, this course is perfect for those looking to Boston Qualify or simply PB. Most importantly, runners are encouraged to challenge themselves beyond the physical element of the race and run for a charity through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge.

BTGYYZ SashaWith Jessie Zapo of @GirlsRunNYC

BTGYYZ NaivashaNaivasha Thomas Co-Founder of Undo Ordinary Photos by Jess Baumung

My personal highlight of this year’s race was partnering with the Children’s Wish Foundation as part of the #ScotiaChallenge, to help raise money and awareness for my favourite charitable organization. In case you missed my first Children’s Wish Ontario Chapter experience you can read it here.  Another special element of this year’s race was Bridge the Gap (BTG). BTG is where run crews converge in a selected city each year and are hosted by that city’s members – this year’s STWM saw over 30 run clubs from around the world. The ethos of BTG is to “Train Hard. Run Harder. Play Hardest.” From Friday to Monday, the international BTG community took over “The 6” and visited the AGO, sang shameless karaoke at the Gladstone Hotel, did a special shakeout run with Parkdale Road Runners and of course the highly anticipated post race party where there was a DJ battle with a music set by each city in attendance.

Being on the sidelines, I had more time meet some of the amazing runners I’ve connected with via social media over the past few years. Watching my friends pass me at Crew Love Corner gave me goosebumps. Locking eyes with each of them as they approached, and watching the energy being transferred from the cheer squad to each runner was intense. Their reactions to recognizing familiar faces all screaming, playing music and throwing copious amounts of confetti was priceless. It is something you have to experience yourself to understand.

Leigh Gerson Black Roses NYC


Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

BTGYYZPhotos by Tobias Wang and Sydney Allen Nash

It was only then when the FOMO of not running the race disappeared. My spirit animal Leigh Gerson of Black Roses NYC, who has been my social media pen pal for almost a year, cruised to the finish line of the half in 1:24:28 minutes, coming in 3rd place in her age group (that’s with no training ladies and gentleman). She is a beast and inspires me and other female weekend warriors every single day! Witnessing my #OnTheRunTO girls run their first half-marathon was extremely emotional. As I watched them run by me, the last three months flashed before my eyes. I recalled every rain run, injury, the 6 a.m. training sessions and the altering they made to their social lives to accommodate Saturday morning long runs. I was so overwhelmed when I saw Anna Bediones, I literally jumped into the race and ran with her for 20 feet. Each of the 25,000 runners deserved to have every single one us at “Crew Love Corner” standing in the freezing cold cheering our butts off for them.

It has been almost a week since race day and if you’re following the hashtags #STWM, #ScotiaChallenge and #BTGYYZ on any social media channel, you will see that people are still posting photos keeping the vibe alive. That’s how powerful the weekend was. Due to the race’s popularity, registration for the 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon opens in just a few weeks on November 17th 2015. Need a bit of motivation or want to make your run in next year’s race more meaningful? Take part in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and raise funds for a cause close to your heart. To learn more about this epic race weekend and to find out how to register for 2016, head to

My Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Charity Challenge x Children’s Wish Foundation

Scotia Challenge Children's Wish

It is October and that can only mean one thing for runners; fall race season. There are several important races that happen this time of the year; such as the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon and the Chicago Marathon, but Toronto has its very own prestigious race this month that attracts legions of international runners every year. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has become a fan favourite because its “flat and fast” course, that leads to many PB’s and is also known as a traffic-free Boston Qualifier.

Scotia Challenge Children's Wish

I had big plans for race season this year until they were interrupted with a chronic injury, but I still wanted to find a way to take part and also do some good for my community. Personally, what I love most about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is the race’s charity component. The Scotiabank Charity Challenge allows runners to go the distance and raise funds/awareness for their favourite charity. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be able to use my voice and running to raise awareness for causes and my #ScotiaChallenge this year was to give back to the Children’s Wish Foundation.

Scotia Challenge Children's Wish

Through my own personal health issues, I learned that happy and positive experiences when you’re sick can be just as effective as medicine (some argue even more so). Children’s Wish Foundation is dedicated to providing kids with life threatening illnesses the opportunity to have their biggest wishes come true. Since granting their first wish 30 years ago, the Foundation has gone on to grant over 22,000 wishes – with the largest amount granted by the Ontario Region Chapter.

Scotia Challenge Children's Wish

I got to spend some time with the team at their office last week and had the pleasure of attending the organization’s largest private event at Mosport Racetrack during Thanksgiving weekend. In its 25th year, the Children’s Wish Foundation’s “Ride-Along”, in conjunction with Pfaff Automotive Partners, is an amazing event for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families where they get to experience the thrill of driving the infamous racetrack in some of the most expensive vehicles with local race car drivers.


I got to take a spin in the red Porsche 911 GT3 Turbo of event Co-Founder Dave Lacey, President and CEO of Brookfield RPS, on Sunday morning. While hitting the track’s apex’s like a pro and pushing the GT3 to speeds over 200 km/hour, Dave chatted with me about starting this event and his enjoyment working with Children’s Wish. “It’s been almost 25 years since I started this event with Jeff Pabst of Pfaff Motors. We saw something similar going on in the U.S. and thought we needed to do something here at home. We are happy to be able to provide this unique experience to these wonderful children. The day represents the opportunity for the kids to forget their pain and illness and focus on something fun and exciting with their families. The race car drivers donate their time and use of their vehicles just to see the smiles on these children’s faces.”


During the event I got a chance to meet a very special 7-year-old at the side of the track who was eagerly waiting for her second spin with her twin sister. Taylor Roberts was diagnosed with Leukemia almost two years ago to date and spent nearly half of this time in insolation in hospital, separated from her family, including her twin Alicia. I will be honest, I was drawn to this family right away when I found out the parents had twin girls who had two very different lives due to Taylor’s diagnosis. In fact, I had assumed that having one twin who was healthy, might have made it more difficult for the other that was facing a life threatening illness. Much to my surprise, the twin’s Mom, Wendy Roberts, explained that it was in fact the complete opposite. “They are best friends. Alicia has not only been Taylor’s rock during these last couple of years but has also been her life line to the outside world – reporting back to Taylor on what’s going on at school, etc., allowing her to feel more included than left out.” Within the last 24 months, Wendy was forced to quit her job as a Communications Specialist in the financial sector and her husband has taken a leave of absence from his job, made possible by his understanding employer. To call their situation stressful is by far an understatement, however; the family looks forward to day outings like these where they can enjoy the time together as a family.

Scotia Challenge Children's Wish Photography by Nathalia Allen of

The average cost per wish is approximately $10,000 and the Foundation is able to grant nearly three wishes every single day with the help of amazing volunteers and generous donors. It has been amazing to learn about the dreams that Children’s Wish is able to make come true through the individual adventures they create for each Wish Child. Children’s Wish is a national charity with provincial chapters across the country. For more information on the organization or to donate head to

Click here for more information on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and the Charity Challenge. Wishing all the runners and walkers the best of luck on October 18. Can’t wait to see some of you cross that finish line and raise money for causes close to your hearts.

Kristen Kuzemko Help’s Conquer Childhood Cancer on Two Wheels


My site is usually a space where I share my own personal journey in hopes to inspire, motivate and encourage others but in a recent interview I did for an online publication, I was asked about the people in my life that inspire me. I realized that my list was in fact quite long, which is a blessing and then realized that perhaps I should start helping others share their stories.

Kristen Kuzemko is an amazing spirit I met through Nike Canada when I began training for the San Francisco Half Marathon. A Product Expert for the running category she was an integral part of my race preparation educating me on everything from the appropriate types of shoes for my gait and distances, how to stay cool in heat during 26.2 km’s and most importantly how to tackle the ridiculously steep hills of the Golden Gate city. This past summer we bonded over another sport, cycling. During one of our rides Kris chatted to me about all her volunteer work which I had gotten glimpses of on social media over the years but had not made the connection that majority, if not all, the causes she was connected to had to do with Cancer. Turns out, over the course of 15 years, Kuzemko’s immediately family had been faced with 7 different diagnosis of this horrible disease. “The summer I start running, I instantly knew I wanted to turn my passion into a way to help others. Since then I have volunteered weekly at at Sick Kids Hospital on the Oncology floor. This past summer I spent a week up north at Camp Ooch, a camp for kids who have been affected by Cancer and have challenged myself physically by participating in the NYC marathon, SportingLife 10k, The Sears Great Canadian Run, as well as riding my bike across Canada in 2012 all in hopes of making a bit of difference.”

Sears National Kids Cancer Ride 2015


Fast forward three years and Kristen is back on two wheels, with some other very brave and admirable Canadians to pedal across our beautiful country. With her job traveling across North America for Nike about 80% of the year, she had limited time in the saddle to train for this ridiculously long ride but Kristen knew that her close connection to the disease would give her the strength she needs to be one of the strongest riders in the peloton. I read up on childhood cancer in Canada after reading Kristen’s bio and cried sadly way too late for me to participate in this courageous journey. The causes of childhood cancer is generally unknown and takes hold of roughly 10,000 kiddies a year. Today, about 80% of childhood cancer patients become long term survivors and majority of them are considered cured. Sadly though, around 60% of those have long term impact to their health due to their cancer treatments. The Sears National Kids Cancer Ride will fund research and other programs to help improve the lives of children living with this disease.


Kristen loves to quote Ghandi and say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – which she says is exactly what she’s doing and kindly reminds us that it only takes one person to inspire!


My swoosh sister needs to raise $25,000 and 100% of these proceeds will be going towards funding research at the 17 paediatric facilities in every single province in Canada. Reaching this goal will not become possible without the help of others in our community. This year’s SNKCR is already in progress, with the ride beginning in White Rock, British Columbia and ending in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 26th. There is still time to help give to this amazing cause. Click here to learn more about Kristen’s story and to make a personal donation. She is also documenting and video blogging the journey on For more information on the foundation head to Interested in participating in this ride next year? I will admit, I am…you can find more information on how you can make a difference on two wheels at

Thank you Kris for being such an amazing inspiration to me and everyone around you. Cannot wait to toast you at the end of your ride! xo

Kick Up For Kidney Cancer Fitness Fundraiser

Kick Up For Kidney CancerPhoto by Nathalia Allen –

In 2001 I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease called FSGS and I have been battling with this incurable ailment ever since. Renal issues are actually hereditary in my family, so when I was asked to lend my support to help raise awareness for kidney cancer with the “Kick It Up For Kidney Cancer” event alongside some of Toronto’s most notable faces in fitness, the decision was a no brainer. This super fun and active event is far different from any fundraiser you have ever been to. In the form of a bootcamp workout, participants will work up a sweat to help raise funds and awareness for those diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Taking place on Sunday June 7th, 2015 at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, the 3rd annual event will be led by some of the city’s top trainers; Michael DeCorte of Jock Yoga, Brent Bishop of Think Fitness and Dara Bergeron of Belly Bootcamp – with the amazing and uber talented Jully Black reprising her role once again as MC. A four hour bootcamp may sound a bit daunting but trust me, it will be super fun! The format is team based, where participants tag in and out with their teammates and follow the trainers lead through the workout demos. I love the fact that the workout utilizes the different backgrounds of each fitness expert, meaning participants will get three totally different modalities – Dana who will focus on a lot of hip training through her belly bootcamp style workout, Brent’s performance based training method and Michael’s yoga focused exercises.

Michael DeCorte Jock YogaMichael DeCorte – Creator of Jock Yoga

I am stoked to team up with Michael DeCorte to offer one lucky reader a customized #KickItUp prize pack. DeCorte is the Creator of Jock Yoga; a contemporary and athletic approach to yoga practice that has gained a cult following here in Toronto. He’s been practicing and teaching yoga for over 13 years and has worked/trained with the most internationally respected teachers and yogis. Similar to myself, Michael has used fitness to overcome personal and health related challenges, which helped us quickly form a solid bond and friendship. You may recognize his handsome face as an On-Air fitness expert on Global TV, CBC and Breakfast Television. In preparation for this summer’s big event, I got to learn about Michael’s connection to the cause and what it means to him, “I‘ve decided to partner with Kidney Cancer Canada because I am passionate about the benefits of exercise and the reality that exercise is one of the only ways we can prevent illness and diseases – particularly kidney cancer. Yoga and exercise helped save my own life from substance abuse and obesity. Also, 3 years ago my beloved grandmother died of kidney failure due to cancer in her bile duct. So when I was asked to contribute to this charity and teach at Kick It Up, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Kick It Up Prize Pack - for post with Michael

Our customized giveaway contains a Hershel backpack, Gaiam yoga mat, #KickItUp branded towel, a complimentary admission to the event, plus a voucher for a private training session with Michael DeCorte. Entering is simple. You must follow both myself and @JockYogaGuy on Twitter and tweet, “I want to help support Kidney Cancer Canada at #KickItUp with @SashaExeter and @JockYogaGuy!” starting today for a chance to win. Contest will close on Tuesday April 28th at midnight EST and the winner will be announced via Twitter on April 29th, 2015. *Contest open to Canadian residents only!

There is an astounding 24,000 Canadians living today with this disease. Sadly, there are no screening tests, no early detection and no cure, which is why prevention and fundraising through events like this are super important. We are determined to beat last year’s fundraising success and make this year the biggest yet and our goal is to raise $100,000 or more. Click here for more information on Kick It Up For Kidney Cancer, additional details on the event and learn how to register. Planning on participating? Take advantage of the early bird reduced registration fee until April 30th! Additional information on the foundation can be found at

Tangerine Teams Up With Steve Nash for #BrightWayForward Initiative

Tangerine Bright Way Forward

Tangerine Bank will always have a special place in my heart. When I got my first job after university my parents encouraged me to open a high-interest savings account (back when the bank was known as ING) to teach me to take ownership of my finances. This not only empowered me, but also made it possible for me to purchase two vehicles and my very first property at a young age. The financial institution has made a name for themselves since 1997 for their accessible and flexible products and services with low-to-fair fees to satisfy your everyday banking needs. This year Tangerine’s CEO Peter Aceto has made a commitment to empower through the “Bright Way Forward” initiative where they have chosen to partner with a select group of charitable organizations such as; YMCA Canada, FoodShare, Youth Without Shelter, ACCES Employment, United Way, Canada Basketball in addition to the Steve Nash Youth Basketball Program.

With basketball being the fastest growing and most popular sport amongst visible minorities here in Canada, joining forces with 2-time NBA MVP Steve Nash presents a unique way for Tangerine to provide young people with a new skill set, teamwork & leadership skills, while gaining a sense of belonging…all imperative elements to creating a bright way forward today and tomorrow.

TANGERINE - Steve Nash teams up with Tangerine

Tangerine Bright Way Forward

Tangerine Bright Way Forward

To kick off this exciting initiative, Tangerine hosted a launch event last week at the YMCA for media and kids from Nash’s foundation got a surprise by the Canadian basketball star, who spent time teaching them the fundamentals of the game and running on court drills. You can check out the children’s reactions in my Instagram video here. To end off the inspiring day, I joined Steve as he took over Tangerine’s twitter account for an hour where we discussed personal empowerment through sports and fans got to ask him questions for a chance to win a signed basketball jersey. Throughout the course of the hour-long twitter chat, I was able to share my personal stories of empowerment, how sport helped shape who I am today and was able to take away some amazing advice from Canada’s most celebrated basketball player – who reminded us that there’s, “No way around hard work. Set goals, have a plan and constantly reanalyze them!”.

Steve Nash - Tangerine Bright Way ForwardPhotos via Nathalia Allen, Newswire and @SashaExeter Instagram

More information on this initiative can be found at Learn more about Tangerine’s products and services on and by following them on twitter at @TangerineBank.

Lululemon & The Remix Project Presents: Beats and Balance

Lululemon Beats and Balance event

It is very rare that I post events on my site but every once in a while something so unique pops up that I get really excited about and feel compelled to share.  This weekend Lululemon is hosting the ultimate fitness event here in Toronto that is not to be missed. Fitness is usually at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the beginning of the new year with new goals and resolutions set and trust me, this is the perfect way to get that extra motivation to stay on track. With a mashup of music, athletics, art and an community workout, it will definitely be a day unlike anything you have experienced before hosted by Tyronne Edwards from E! Entertainment and Sarah Taylor.

WHAT: Lululemon will be bringing together some of Toronto’s top fitness instructors to conduct several classes throughout the day with special live music performances. After the final class of the day, guests will be able to drink and nosh on refreshments while listening to tunes spun by DJ Brendan Fallis (otherwise known as Hannah Bronfman’s handsome boyfriend).

Lululemon Beats and Balance

WHEN: Saturday January 24th, 2015 at Arcadian Court in Toronto. Four classes will take place at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

*Saturday’s event marks the kick off of Lululemon’s involvement with The Remix Project, an non-profit organization created in Toronto whose programs help disadvantaged youth from marginalized communities who are trying to enter into creative industries.

I definitely look forward to attending this Saturday and supporting this amazing project. If you’re interesting in coming out as well, you can register to secure your spot here  – tickets are only $10 each and 100% of the ticket sales will be donated to The Remix Project Toronto.

Give Back To Your Favourite Cause In Style With 1:Face Watch

1:Face WatchGiving back to those less fortunate has always been part of my life; whether I’m donating my time to children’s toy drives, dishing out food at the Salvation Army, helping build homes with Habitat of Humanity or running to help find a cure for breast cancer. I am always looking for new ways to bring awareness to charities and hopefully one step closer to banishing some of the hardships people are currently facing in third world countries, so when I heard I could do so by simply wearing a dope watch, I was totally on board.

Created two years ago in Chicago by Fam Mirza (Creative Director of Mirza Minds), 1:Face Watch was born and quickly became a global movement that offers 8 watches – with each attached to a different charity partner or cause. Every watch in the stylish collection is associated with a metric so you can better understand how your purchase is making a difference in the world:

1:Face Watch Colours

For only $50, you can purchase a watch to support a cause near and dear to your heart. My first watch is in support of Hunger, in which my wrist wear will provide 16 meals to those in need and I plan to add more to my collection. Chances are, you will be asked about your watch each time you wear it, giving you a chance to enhance awareness for both 1:Face and the cause you chose to support. In turn, increasing the probabilities of others making a purchase to support that cause or their cause of choice. Essentially…it is a gift that keeps on giving. Stay tuned for an upcoming street style post featuring my “Hunger” watch. For more information on the 1:Face global movement or to order a watch, head to Don’t forget to get social and follow 1:Face Watch on Twitter and Instagram.

Help End Hunger with the Million Meals Movement

Million Meals Movement

Sadly, in North America there are still many families that do not have access to proper nutrition or healthy meals, which is integral to a child’s learning, test grades, attendance and even creativity in school and the fact that so many Canadians still go without meals altogether is very disturbing. After learning some alarming facts I felt compelled to get involved in ONEXONE’s fight against hunger by joining the “Million Meals Movement”. I will be doing my part by teaming up with my fellow ONEXONE Brand Ambassadors to help pack meals for kids that will be distributed across both Toronto and Montreal. This is just a small part leading to the goal of packing one million meals for children across North America.

Following the community meal packing initiative, there will be a celeb packed concert (tickets available for $50) at the Sony Center for the Performing Arts featuring Kardinall Official, Simple Plan, Alyssa Reid and more. All proceeds from the concert will go to the ONEXONE and Simple Plan Foundations to help banish hunger in our country. Getting involved has never been so fun and easy trust me…interested in participating?  Click here to purchase your tickets and make sure to check out to learn more about the cause. For those who cannot attend the fundraising concert, but would still like to make a donation, can do so at Look forward to seeing some of you there! xx

Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OXOMILLIONMEALS

The 5th Annual Frocktail Party | Mixing Fashion & Philanthropy

Frocktail Party

Ladies, mark your calendars because Frocktail, one of the most anticipated events of the year returns on Thursday November 28th, 2013 and will be held at the ultra swanky Arcadian Loft in downtown Toronto. For the fifth consecutive year, founders Jessica Oliver, Ali Reid, and Jen Foster have put together a super glam night filled with fashion, philanthropy and an auction in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) – with 100% of the proceeds going to the Foundation.

This year there is an outstanding list of designers and retailers alike who have generously donated beautiful dresses to be auctioned off at the beginning of the evening such as; Hudson’s Bay, Intermix, Zac Posen, Greta Constantine, Line, Pink Tartan, David’s, and The Four Seasons Spa, just to name a few, in addition some very special notable personalities and celebs have also donated dresses straight from their own personal wardrobes.

What Guests Can Expect: Car Service from Uber, delish food provided by Oliver & Bonacini and tasty cocktails from alcohol sponsors Collavini, Peroni, Hendricks, and Iceberg Vodka. And the night wouldn’t be right without some pampering for us ladies with complementary on-site manis by O.P.I. Nails and eyelash services by Winks Eyelash Boutique.

When: Thursday November 28th, 2018   Auction 7pm-10pm and dancing until late

Where: Arcadian Loft, 401 Bay St, Simpson Tower, 8th Floor Toronto, ON

Tickets are $65 in advance and $75 at the door (includes 2 drinks + canapes). To preview the list of items in this year’s auction head to


“A Heel Of A Good Time” | Dress For Success’ 3rd Annual Fundraiser

dress for success

I can’t think of a better way to help women within the community than with a fashion fundraiser. For the third year in a row Dress For Success Toronto is set to host their annual fashion fundraiser appropriately titled, “A Heel of a Good Time” tomorrow evening at Toronto’s chic The Fifth Social Club. This unique gala is the main fundraising event for the organization, whose sole mission is to help promote the economic independent of disadvantaged women in the city by providing them with professional attire, career development tools in addition to a network of support via women’s shelters, government agencies and employment centers – with the assistance of some great companies like; Calvin Klein, Accenture, Proctor & Gamble, Manulife Financial, The Body Shop and more.

Jeanne Beker

This year one of the fashion industry’s most recognizable faces, Jeanne Beker (whose accomplishments are to long to list) will be honoured for her remarkable contributions to fashion in addition to her continued support of Dress to Success.  And of course it wouldn’t be a fashion event without a fashion show. Afiya Francisco, Style Expert and Creative Director of The Style House has styled an exciting and interactive fashion show and will also be conducting a live auction throughout the evening for attending guests.

Tickets for tomorrow’s event start at $90 for Gala Admission and $180 for Gala + VIP reception. For more information on how to volunteer, donate, or to purchase tickets for the fundraiser, please head to


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