RBC Race for the Kids Toronto has an enthusiastic team of volunteer Ambassadors who are dedicated to helping you meet your fitness and fundraising goals. Check out their bios below and follow them on social media for motivational posts and RBC Race for the Kids Toronto updates.

To get to know our 2017 RBC Race for the Kids Ambassadors, click on their picture for more information!


Andrea Taivassalo

Andrea Taivassalo

What got you into running?

Seven years ago I looked in the mirror and saw someone's mom, someone's wife, someone's sister, daughter, teacher... all are amazing things. However, what I didn't see was who I was independent of other people. So one April weekend, under the guise of helping my oldest to practice for his first Try-a-TRI , I laced up a pair of crappy old shoes and went for a run, and it sucked! I honestly don't know what made me keep going but, I set some small goals and met them and I started to feel like I had something that was mine.

How has running impacted your life?

I am definitely a more patient and healthy version of myself. I have met wonderful, like-minded people who motivate me and inspire me to do things that I never thought that I would do.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

Last year I ran the 15k with Melly C. and Matt S. who are ambassadors this year as well. We had a great time together even in the pouring rain.

Connect with Andrea:




  partnersinstride.wordpress.com

Carina Cappuccitti

Carina Cappuccitti

How has running impacted your life?

I’ve met so many interesting people through running. They inspire me and challenge me to stick to my run routine and to push myself to get faster and go longer.

What is your favourite pre-race or night-before-race meal?

The morning of a race I make a smoothie with banana, mango chunks, spinach, matcha powder and coconut milk. I also have oatmeal with blueberries.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

I love The Beaches boardwalk.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

When meeting up with everyone in person for the first time, we were calling each other by our social media handles. We were so used to chatting with each on Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms.

Connect with Carina:




  carinacapp.blogspot.ca

Jodie Hutchinson

Jodie Hutchinson

What got you into running?

I was always the cheerleader to my friends. One day I decided there is no reason why I can’t run. So I just took up running and learned to run, with the help of my friends.

How has running impacted your life?

I have grown as a person, mentally able to rise above being bullied and use running as a positive in my life, I’ve lost weight and continued to become a better version of myself.

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you think help you on the big day?

I have to be at a race at least an hour before, to see the start line, see the finish (if possible) and mentally get myself ready.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

The waterfront/Rouge Park; it is safe as it has trails and it is just beautiful, with the sounds of the water. I always find it relaxing.

Connect with Jodie:



  justmejodie.com

Leandra Covello

Leandra Covello

How has running impacted your life?

Until late, I never truly realized how much running has impacted my life. It has been the greatest outlet to clear and ease my mind. As a person who has also combated mental health, I find peace and harmony when I put on my head phones, listen to my favorite music, and run.

What is your favourite pre-race or night-before-race meal?

I come from a big Italian family. So, growing up my favorite pre game meal was a fresh plate of my Mom’s homemade pasta! This meal gave me all the energy I needed for a big game and I still enjoy it as a night-before-race meal. However, I have become more mindful to healthier alternatives before a race. Now, my favorite pre-race meal is a slice of multigrain toast with almond butter, bananas, honey, and a dash of cinnamon. It is super nutritious and gives you tons of energy before a run or race!

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

My favourite way to refuel after a run is with a wholesome balance of protein and carbohydrates. Protein is vital for the growth and repair of muscle tissue and carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source. My go-to after a run is a protein smoothie. My favorite being a raw maca shake with plant-based protein, bananas, dates, cinnamon, and almond butter.

Connect with Leandra:



Jennifer Kimoto

Jenn Kimoto

What got you into running?

After playing NCAA soccer, I wanted to stay fit and explore the challenge of completing a marathon.

How has running impacted your life?

Running is my meditation. It is a way for me to connect to myself and the beautiful world surrounding me. I’ve also had the pleasure to meet so many wonderful people through the Toronto running community.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

The track at Central Technical School or the Martin Goodman Trail.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

Simply being able to participate on race day. It floors me every time how many runners and supporters come out to give generously to such a great cause that I hold close to my heart.

Connect with Jenn:



Laurie McCann

Laurie McCann

What got you into running?

A good friend asked me if I wanted to run a half marathon, I of course sad yes not knowing what I was getting into and I have been hooked ever since.

How has running impacted your life?

Running for me is my mental health break. Running keeps me sane and heart healthy. I have met some amazing people through running and have been part of some amazing organizations, like RBC race for the kids.

Is there a song that gets you really pumped up for a run?

I have a running list I listen to but I love Shape of You by Ed Sheeran.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

The amazing people I met along the way. My fellow ambassadors were so amazing and the Sunnybrook crew are over the moon fantastic. But the best part is knowing I am helping change the lives of youth struggling with mental health, like my daughter.

Connect with Cathy:



Jennifer McCrea

Jennifer McCrea

How has running impacted your life?

Running has provided me with a feeling of accomplishment that I have never experienced before, and I have proven to myself that I am physically and mentally stronger than I realized. It’s also given me a strong sense of community and connected me to many other runners in Toronto and the surrounding GTA.

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you think help you on the big day?

I faithful do the following three things before every race: I drink a lot of water two days prior, I set out what I plan to wear the night before, and I go to bed early so I am well rested.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

My favorite spot is running along the Martin Goodman Trail. Being close to the water while I am running is very calming for me. It’s the perfect place for me to reflect while I run.

Connect with Jennifer:



Jarek Pachocki

Jarek Pachocki

How has running impacted your life?

Certainly running became healthy physical activity that I truly enjoy. But I believe that running is much more than just physical activity. It helps me to find balance in life and in some ways become a better person. Running is full of life-lessons… live the moment, pace yourself, enjoy every km of your life, one step at the time, etc. It helps me to deal with my own issues, when I have "me" time, when "running into myself" becomes kind of meditation.

Is there a song that gets you really pumped up for a run?

There is no particular song that I would listen to on the run… Actually after reading the book "Running Into Yourself: Unlock Your Strength, Heal Your Wounds, and Find New Life Through Running" by Jean-Paul Bedard, I leave my iPod home. Focusing on my run, without distraction of music, became for me a form of taking care of my mental health.

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you think help you on the big day?

Just following the basic rule: nothing new on the race day. And I always say a prayer for a healthy and enjoyable run before the start.

Connect with Jarek:




  YouTube Jarek Pachocki
  frjarek.wordpress.com

Matt Small

Matt Small

What got you into running?

I love a challenge! A colleague at work got me hooked on running after a friendly challenge.

Is there a song that gets you really pumped up for a run?

Regardless of how I am feeling, there is this one song that gets me pumped! Every. Single. Time. Sandstorm by Da Rude. Haven't heard it? Give it a listen.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

I like biking and hiking and enjoying the outdoors! I will sometimes binge watch a show on Netflix, but that doesn't happen too often. Only 24 hours in a day!

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

I have to say that my favourite memory each year is seeing everybody showing up with a big smile on their face ready to have a great time for a great cause! The finish on Yonge Street last year was perfect too!

Connect with Matt:



Kate Witheridge

Kate Witheridge

How has running impacted your life?

I started running as a way to get out of the office and clear my head for an hour. Since then, running has become a way to exercise, cope with stress, and spend time with friends. I have developed some amazing friendships along the way and my running friends are now a huge part of my support network.

What is your favourite pre-race or night-before-race meal?

While I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, my favourite night-before-race meal is a Chipotle burrito. Or when that’s not available, I’ll eat mac n’ cheese.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

I love running through High Park to the Lakeshore. It’s a great way to experience nature, see other runners, and in the summer it’s easy to find a water fountain.

Connect with Kate:



Melinda Ciffolillo

Melinda Ciffolillo

How has running impacted your life?

Running has opened a whole new world to me.  It is more than exercise. It is my stress relief and my strength. It has taught me I can do anything.  I have met so many wonderful people in the running community.  Many of us are very close friends even when we are not running together.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

The Martin Goodman Trail and the Kay Gardner Beltline trail are among my favourite spots to run in this city.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

Think about running! I also have a very busy life being single parent to two beautiful daughters and working full-time in the health care industry.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

I love every aspect of being an ambassador, and it would be very difficult to narrow down a specific memory. Running with friends and raising money and awareness for such an important cause brings me a lot of joy.

Connect with Melinda:



Roxanne Khasow

Roxanne Khasow

How has running impacted your life?

Running has changed my life for the better. Not only am I happier and healthier, but through RBC’s Race for the Kids I have been able to talk to so many people about the importance of mental health and why it should be an open conversation.

Is there a song that gets you really pumped up for a run?

Honestly, anything by Drake. A classic would be Jumpman which features Future.

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

First, with lots of water! Then, with a good protein shake made with strawberries and a banana.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

I’m a full-time student at York University, and I work part-time. So when I’m not there or at the gym, I love watching hockey (Let’s Go Pens!), baking cookies, and reading.

Connect with Roxanne:



Mike Ordono

Mike Ordono

How has running impacted your life?

Running has taken me to many new places and has introduced me to some of the best people that I consider friends. Physically, it has taken me to limits that I did not previously know existed. Running to me is more a lifestyle than a sport.

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

I especially love peanut butter, banana and chocolate flavoured protein shake.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

I love running along the Humber trail because it'll take you from the 401 and south to Lake Ontario along the river and without ever having to surface on the roads.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

I love race-kit pickup because I get to talk to people being a race ambassador and how important it is for us to raise funding for such an important cause. I also love talking to people about their training, preparation and fundraising experiences.


Mike van Mil

Mike van Mil

How has running impacted your life?

To date running has helped me with stress at work it has brought my wife and I closer together and it's even helped me to drop a pant size!

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

Love the post race food! Actually the RBC race for the kids always has the best post race food! Especially the egg sandwiches!

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

When I'm not running I love taking my daughter to her dance classes and competitions and my son to all his hockey games and practices.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

Favourite memory of being an ambassador is the first year I did it when I completed my very first 15k!

Connect with Mike:




  paramedicmike.ca

Morgan Henderson

Morgan Henderson

How has running impacted your life?

It has connected me with a community of people that are so supportive.

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

Vegan buckwheat pancakes with coconut whip and berries and a protien shake. I eat this every sunday after a long run.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

I always try to fit on some other type of exercise that isn't running. It changes alot. I've gotten into meditation lately. I also just enjoy time with my dogs.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

I love the energy around this race. There is no pressure to be fast. It's really fun. Watching the excitement of all the kids running and crossing the finish line, that's what running is all about.

Connect with Morgan:



Naomi Algate

Naomi Algate

What got you into running?

Four years ago I signed up for my first race RBC Race for the Kids. The race was the impetus for getting me back into running.

How has running impacted your life?

Running has truly given me so much in return. I have gained lifelong friends, I have learned I can persevere when things are tough, and I feel that running allows me to clear my mind and feel refreshed and restored. The best thing is I can translate all of these running positives into my daily work at Family Navigation and into my family life.

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

Oatmeal and fruit are my go to re fuel foods.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

I have two favourite running routes. The paths through Sunnybrook Park offer a perfect running oasis, as does the Beltline. Both provide a natural solitude that I welcome before or after a busy day.


Nicholas Newell

Nicholas Newell

What got you into running?

My mom was always an avid runner, when my best friend died it was something I picked up naturally that helped me focus back on life and relieve stress.

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

Gelato, I don't know if that counts as refuelling though…

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

Easy, Crothers Woods trail system.

When you're not running, what do you like to do?

When I'm not running I'm pretty big on the theater, checking out new cafés, and cycling to unique locations.

Connect with Nicholas:

Kaitlyn Tougas

Kaitlyn Tougas

What got you into running?

Growing up being involved with a variety of sports like hockey, soccer, and baseball, I have always enjoyed running as a more relaxed and individual way to exercise. Track and field in grade school and high school influenced my interest to continue running. My mom is a runner and has completed several competitions so she has been a role model for me as well.

How has running impacted your life?

Running allows me personally to focus on myself and clear my mind. It has impacted me by not only getting the physical health benefits of getting into great shape, but the mental aspects of it as well. Running is something I've learnt to enjoy competitively and as a leisure activity.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

Down Lakeshore on a nice summer morning.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

I enjoy playing hockey in the CWHL.

Connect with Kaitlyn:



Mike Robinson

Mike Robinson

What got you into running?

Running is a big part of my training program in the summer, as I am a hockey player it has helped me with my endurance and mental focus.

How has running impacted your life?

It has impacted me physically and mentally. Running provided me with health benefits like being in better shape and having the ability to work on myself non-competitively.  

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you think help you on the big day?

Taking my dog Cha Cha for a walk is always a pre-game ritual. Eating the same meal. Putting my equipment on the exact same way every time as well as the exact same warm up routine.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

Scarborough Bluffs.

Connect with Mike:



Sandi Swan

Sandi Swan

How has running impacted your life?

I have made friends and strong relationships. I have set goals and challenged myself to achieve them. I am stronger and more confident in myself. I am a healthy active role model for my children.

What is your favourite pre-race or night-before-race meal?

Pasta….something creamy with vegetables.

What is your favourite way to re-fuel after a run?

Chocolate Milk!! Has the exact amount of carbohydrates and protein that the body needs to recover.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

It’s the most well run/organized event I’ve had the pleasure to take part in. I love the ambassador meet up runs. I enjoy promoting this race. I make it a family event as my son runs it as well. Meeting everyone and cheering on all the other racers is pretty awesome.

Connect with Sandi:




  sandiswan.wordpress.com

Tina Benigno

Tina Benigno

How has running impacted your life?

Running has helped me stay healthy, and has kept me centred even though I don’t always love it or have great runs. Through running events and social media, I have met many encouraging and inspiring people. The running community is incredible!

Is there a song that gets you really pumped up for a run?

Fight Song by Rachel Platten.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

There are so many great spots to run in this city! Along Lakeshore is nice if you can get down there. I also love running in the High Park neighbourhood.

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

My favourite memory is of listening to personal stories of people who have a connection to youth mental illness at a group training run.

Connect with Tina:



Charles Minor

Charles Minor

What got you into running?

I started running in public school during the 1970's "running boom" but I really got into running after my daughters were born. Running was a quick and inexpensive way to stay in shape and has now turned into a passion!

How has running impacted your life?

Running has allowed me to meet amazing people but more importantly, it has allowed me some personal time. Living a busy life juggling work and family commitments, running is time to devote to myself. It allows me to keep my head clear so that I can be the best father, husband, friend and professional that I can be.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

I grew up in South Scarborough on The Bluffs so that area has a special place in my heart. I don't get to run down there very frequently but it is one of my favourite places to run. The Bluffs are so gorgeous and you can get in some killer hill repeats down there!

Connect with Charles:



minor67.wordpress.com

Angela Fuhrmann

Angela Fuhrmann

How has running impacted your life?

Running has made me realize that I am successful and it has such a positive impact on all areas of my life.

Is there a song that gets you really pumped up for a run?

I could list so many, but Broken arrows by Avicii. It makes me feel empowered.

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you think help you on the big day?

I surround myself with my friends. We always offer each other words of encouragement, and give eachother all the love before we cross the start line.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

I love running in Toronto. I like to start at Nathan Phillips square and go from there!

Connect with Angela:



Nicole Kloosterman

Nicole Kloosterman

What got you into running?

I began running in 2006 when I joined a running group through my gym I ran my first half marathon in 2007.

How has running impacted your life?

I have met some of my best friends through running. Running ALWAYS makes me feel better after a bad day.

What is the best spot to go for a run in Toronto?

The Kay-Gardner Beltline and I LOVE running the streets of downtown Toronto. So much to see.

Connect with Nicole:



Chivon John

Chivon John

What got you into running?

My first memory of running was in highschool for my school’s track and cross country team. Although I loved sprinting, distance running intimidated me for years until I decided to run my first 5K race in my twenties. It was only when I released my fear and desire to run a ‘perfect race’ that I started to enjoy it and recognize that a race is less about a great time and more about your experience along the way.

How has running impacted your life?

Running has introduced me to new friends, opportunities and most of all helped stretch my physical and mental strength. For me, it is a great metaphor for life and has truly put into perspective how we can choose to break out of our comfort zone. Each time I think I can’t take another step or that I’ll never get stronger, somehow you find your inner strength and realize that you’re capable of so much more than you thought was possible. Running helps me remember that I can overcome and conquer anything if I put forth the effort and believe that I can do it.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

When I’m not running, my favourite wellness activities are spinning, weight training and reading. Thanks to living close to a bookstore, I read a new book each month!

Connect with Chivon:



  youtube.com/chivonjohnfitness
  www.chivonjohn.com

Vicky Leung

Vicky Leung

How has running impacted your life?

Running has helped me to achieve a greater sense of self-confidence. I know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, nothing is impossible. I’ve also made a lot great friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

What is your favourite pre-race or night-before-race meal?

A lot of people like eating pasta but I like having sushi! It’s a good mix of carbs and protein and I find it easier to digest than a heavy pasta dinner.

When you’re not running, what do you like to do?

Eating, watching movies, travelling, exploring and hanging out with my friends. Mostly eating though…

What is your favourite memory of being an RBC Race for the Kids Ambassador?

I loved the day of the race - everything was so well organized, it made running the race so much fun and hanging out with the other ambassadors was fun as well. It was also great to meet a lot of people that I had talked to over social media in person to see how their training had come together. And the grilled cheese sandwiches ... yummy!

Connect with Vicky:




  menubyvicky.com

If you are interested in learning more about our Ambassador program or have any questions, please contact us at rbcraceforthekids@sunnybrook.ca