Q&A: Chantal shares her personal reason for starting Bumps on the Road- A 9K Walk for Pregnancy

Chantal Sarkisian is a fundraiser for the Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health, a local and national charity that raises funds to support research in women’s sexual and reproductive health. She dropped by Local Tourist Ottawa to talk about a fun local event she’s driving forward. 

Ottawa has a lot of walking/running events: what makes yours different?

Pregnancy is a wonderful and positive experience, but most people don’t think of the challenges that come with it. Bumps on the Road -A 9K Walk for Pregnancy is the first time that everyone can come together and raise awareness and funds for research that addresses diseases or illness in pregnancy. Think of research topics like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in pregnancy.

It will be fun and visual: people will come walking in fake bellies or weighted backpacks to really put themselves in the shoes of pregnant women. If a pregnant woman can lug around more than 20 pounds for a few months, I think we can do it for 9K!

This type of walk has never been done before, and I am so glad to be part of it.

Chantal Sarkisian at the CFWH Healthy Women, Healthy Future Gala and Research Awards Ceremony in Vancouver.

What motivated you to start this fundraiser?

Not that I want to get caught up in my own personal life, but sometime you have to experience something for yourself to truly understand it. 

Six months ago, I announced to my closest friends, my family and my colleagues at work that I was pregnant. The next week it happened: I had a miscarriage. I found out that I was pregnant on the same day that I started this job.

As much as it motivated me to do my work, when I lost my baby the motivation was still there… it was just transformed.  Having gone through this made me see life in a different way. I have a better appreciation for the work I do and I am trying my best to stay positive. I’ve become a better person and more driven at work. I know I am not alone and many women have gone through this and it’s common. Everyone has their unique way of coping, and this is my way.

To my fellow women who know where I am coming from, I hope you have found yours.

So, out of nowhere, I decided to post this on my Facebook wall: “I’m organizing this walk for all the women who have gone through challenges throughout their pregnancy. I am participating because I was one.”

I have never revealed this much personal information about myself on Facebook. But after I hit enter… It was too late. I guess that’s what’s scary and beautiful about social media.

Bumps on the Road takes place on October 23, 2011

Thank you for sharing your story with us. What are you hoping will come from this event?

Well, this initiative is meant to launch the first volunteer-based event organized by the Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health volunteers. My long term goal for this walk is to have national volunteer groups host this walk all over Canada, ever year. 

This is our first ever walk, so I have set myself some realistic goals this year. I want to get the community involved and get support from the small business in the Old Ottawa South area. I’d also like to raise 9K (thousand dollars) with 9K (km) for research and awareness. By doing so, I am hoping that more people will learn about the foundation and what we do for women’s health in Canada.

 So what do we all need to know to get involved?

It will be held in Ottawa (780 Echo Drive) on Sunday, October 23, 2011 (registration is at 7 a.m.). It’s a fun event, to highlight pregnant women and raise awareness about the fact that pregnancy can come with its challenges….or bumps on the road, if you will. Men, women and children are encouraged to join healthy pregnant women for this event and wear a fake belly for the walk. The registration fee is $60 per person and prizes will be available to those who raise the highest amount.

Good luck Chantal! To register for the event, visit www.cfwh.org or go directly to the online registration website.