Chris Dobson owes his newfound passion of running to his mother, Sindy Hooper.

Sindy was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2013. Courageously, she took the diagnosis as an opportunity to fight for both her own life and the lives of other cancer patients. She formed a team of 100 runners, originally known as Marathoners Gone Viral, which included her son Chris. Their team participated in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (TORW) and raised more than $100,000 for pancreatic cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital

“She convinced everybody to do the marathon,” Chris says. “I did not train at all, and I just squeaked in under 7 hours. That was my first experience running. She convinced a lot of people to participate – people who said they’d never run in their life.”

Chris Dobson and Sindy Hooper.

This year, Chris will once again join their dedicated crew — now known as the Make Every Moment Count (MEMC) Crew — in raising money for cancer research at the TORW. Their team just recently surpassed the half-a-million-dollar mark in their total fundraising efforts.

Following her treatment at The Ottawa Hospital over a decade ago, Sindy went into remission, living cancer-free for more than nine years while continuing to run and raise money with her team each year. Chris ran alongside his mother that first year, but he didn’t participate in the race again until last year, after the return of Sindy’s cancer.

It was then, in an effort to spend more time with his mother, that Chris truly caught the running bug.

“I just wanted to find any way to spend more time with her, and a triathlon is her favorite thing in the world, so that was just an easy way to spend an hour with her every day,” Chris says.

Chris with his mom, Sindy Hooper, and her husband Jon Hooper

Chris was a smoker at the time, but he found himself enjoying getting into better physical shape and feeling empowered. He committed himself to running, and he says that passion for challenging himself slowly spread to other aspects of his life. Today, it’s been at least a year since he last smoked a cigarette.

A crew that welcomes any level of runner

In September 2022, Sindy was told her cancer had metastasized and she had a year to live — she once again beat those odds. She has since been given an updated prognosis of six months, and yet continues to live with gratitude and courage while still raising money for the cause that is near and dear to her.

“She has a real hunger for life, and seeing how she continues to have that composure in the face of cancer is super inspiring to me,” he says. “If my mom is still able to go do a track workout when she’s on chemo, obviously I can too.”

Chris Dobson

Chris is immensely grateful for all the medical care his mother has received over the years, and he is passionate about how research advancements directly impact countless lives. He has been heartened to learn about the number of effective treatments that are well within reach, and he sees donating to such research as an investment in his, and his loved ones’, futures.

That’s why he plans to continue raising money for The Ottawa Hospital when his mother can no longer do so.

The MEMC Crew is made up of all kinds of people with all different fitness levels, Chris says, ranging from high school students to retirees. Many people are fiercely committed to the run, while others walk through it with the sole purpose of showing support for Sindy.

“She is a fighter, she never gives up, and she never gets discouraged,” Chris says of his mother. “She always has hope. It’s been like this many times, where we’re not sure if she’s going to make it through the next six months, but I have faith that she will.”

“You can join the team and get yourself in shape and maybe even change your life.”

— Chris Dobson

Sindy loves being outside and being active, Chris says, and she’s passionate about the importance of spending time doing things that are both healthy and productive. For Chris, this race is an opportunity to do just that and so much more.

“If you want to do something charitable, I think it’s a great cause,” Chris says. “You can join the team and get yourself in shape and maybe even change your life.”