A 110-day relay to raise awareness about organ donation ended Tuesday afternoon in Toronto and double lung transplant recipient Hélène Campbell ran the final leg to Queen’s Park.
The 21-year-old Ottawa native made international headlines and amassed a huge Twitter following earlier this year after pop star Justin Bieber endorsed her campaign alungstory.ca to promote organ donation.
“It feels amazing to be representing people like me and people in the future who will need an organ donation,” Campbell said outside Toronto General Hospital.
The last portion of the Torch of Life relay – the relay had already hit 71 Ontario towns over 110 days – began at 9:30 a.m.
The run then passed by city hall and Toronto General Hospital before concluding at the legislature around 1 p.m. The torch was handed off to Campbell at the hospital.
“As someone who has received this gift, raising awareness for organ donation is something I will definitely pursue for the rest of my life,” she told reporters inside Queen’s Park.
Over the past eight years, the Torch of Life campaign hoped to raise awareness about organ donation. This year, the goal is to encourage Canadians to become donors by registering online.
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Khaled Khatib, 20, arrived with the torch at Toronto General Hospital as he finished the 110-day marathon around Ontario.
“When I saw her, I couldn’t believe it. I’m very happy,” Khatib said.
“I hope for everybody that needs organs, this helps.”
Khatib began the run after receiving an invitation from organ transplant association Step by Step. Khatib, who lives in Palestine, saw his younger brother killed by an Israeli soldier in 2005. The family decided to donate the 11-year-old boy’s organs to five Israeli children.
Since then, Khatib has been an advocate for organ donation.
He handed off the torch to Campbell and to Yael Gladstone, 19. Gladstone’s brother was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. Gladstone and her family, who are Israeli, decided to donate his organs to a Palestinian girl.