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This year, the Rankin Cancer Run drew more than 13,000 participants.

The donor: Mary Ann Edwards

The gift: Raising $6.5-million and climbing

The causes: Hospitals in the Niagara Region of Ontario

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Mary Ann Edwards spent years volunteering on a fundraising run to raise money for national cancer research but she always wanted to do something more local.

"I just had an idea to figure out some way that money could stay in our Niagara Region," said Ms. Edwards, a former teacher who lives in St. Catharines, Ont.

In 2006, she launched the Rankin Cancer Run with the support of Tom Rankin, who runs a construction company. She had low expectations at first, hoping that 50 people would turn out for the first run.

Instead, more than 3,000 showed up and since then the run has become a fixture in the community calendar each May.

It has raised $6.5-million so far and this year's event drew more than 13,000 participants. Proceeds go to several hospitals and health-care providers in the Niagara Region.

"Honestly I'm just so grateful," said Ms. Edwards, who manages the run as a full-time volunteer. "It's phenomenal, really, that people trusted us to raise the money and that they appreciate it."

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pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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