WINNIPEG —; With each stride, Courtney Mitchler moves a step closer to her goal.
“I want to run further and reach the mile I want to reach,” said the Hedges Middle School Grade 8 student.
RELATED: Winnipeg students get a leg up on Manitoba Marathon training
But not long ago, she faced a much bigger challenge.
Courtney was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 when she was just 11. Doctors discovered a tumor after her appendix burst.
“I didn’t know what it was at first,” said Courtney.
“I was very terrified. I didn’t know if I was going to live.”
It was a dark moment that Courtney, now 13, says she maneuvered with a bright outlook.
“I think staying positive and being happy is a better thing than being upset all the time,” Courtney said.
RELATED: Meet the volunteers keeping young Winnipeg marathoners on track
Within weeks, Courtney had surgery to remove the growth. She joined the Hedges Middle School Running Club once she got back on her feet. The group is one of 100 participating in this year’s Manitoba Marathon Champions in Training program. The goal is to introduce kids to an active lifestyle.
The Hedges Middle School runners will race in Sunday’s Super Run, a 2.6-mile fun run.
“She just wants to stay healthy,” said Kim Mitchler, Courtney’s mom. “She wants to get her six-pack back. She’s a very determined girl.”
RELATED: Winnipeg students surprised with new running shoes
Not just to help herself but also others. Courtney runs an annual fundraiser for cancer research. In two years, she’s raised more than $3,000.
“You can go through some trials in life and that can drag you down or you can go through some trials and come out a stronger person,” said Hedges Middle School Running Club leader Rowland Hayward. “I think she’s come out a stronger person.”
A role model for those running the same race — on or off the course.