By Mike Pearson, News staff
While New Year’s Eve is a time of celebration for most households, the dawn of a new year is a sombre time for the Butler family of Stoney Creek.
After the sudden passing of their son on Dec. 31, 2009, New Year’s Eve has never been the same for Kim and Greg Butler. Without any warning signs, 14-year-old Martin passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition called cardiomyopathy.
For three years on New Year’s Eve, Kim needed sleeping pills to get through the night. But this year, thanks to the support of their family and the community, the Butlers had something positive to celebrate while looking ahead to a new year.
The family entered a 10-person contingent in the annual Brita Resolution Run. Held on New Year’s Eve, the five-kilometre run or walk raises funds for charity. Races are held in communities across Canada. The Stoney Creek event is organized by the Running Room at the Heritage Greene shopping centre.
The team raised $1,725 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation while braving frigid conditions of -16 C with the wind chill.
“We all finished, feeling exhilarated and smiling,” said Greg. “It was the first holiday season with more smiles than tears in four years.”
For each member of the Butler team, the race was an opportunity to stretch their emotional and physical limits, while giving back to the community.
“It was hard, but I was so glad I did it,” said Kim. “It was overwhelming for me.”
Kim, who isn’t accustomed to running, was inspired by Martin as she ran towards the finish line.
“He was running beside me,” said Kim. I always believe my son is with us all the time. That’s what keeps me going.”
A Grade 9 student at Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School, Martin appeared perfectly healthy before his sudden illness. A budding musician with years of piano and guitar instruction, Martin also loved to play soccer and was working towards his black belt in karate.
For the first Christmas following Martin’s passing, the Butler family donated money to CityKidz in lieu of presents. For the second year, the family sponsored a scholarship award at Cardinal Newman.
2013 was an especially difficult time for the Butler family. In May, an 80-pound marble status of Mother Mary was stolen from the family’s property, as well as a Saint Martin statue, placed in Martin’s memory. The statues have never been recovered.
Kim hopes the Resolution Run will help the family in its ongoing healing process. She plans to make the event an annual family tradition.
“My daughter (Anna) came and suggested it just two and-a-half weeks before, so we didn’t have much time to prepare,” said Kim. “We’ve had wonderful support. I cannot believe the generosity of friends who supported us. We raised a lot of money in a short week.”
Next year, Kim hopes to assemble a bigger team with a goal to raise more money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.