News Story

Latter-day Saint Josh Sloan Completes 160-Kilometre Charity Run

Josh Sloan recently gained national attention by completing a 160-kilometre charity run in Surrey, British Columbia. Sloan, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was born with Down syndrome, planned the charity run in honour of his special education teacher, Debbie Kovacs, who lost her battle to cancer in 2015. Josh wanted to do something to pay tribute to her, so he started running to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Kovacs and Sloan had a special friendship. She worked as his special education teacher from Grade 2 to Grade 7 at Simon Cunningham Elementary School. Sloan said, “Ms. Kovacs taught me how to read, how to write, and how to do math.”

According to Sloan, Kovacs also taught him how to run. They trained together during Grades 6 and 7 while he participated on the school cross country team. During their training, they enjoyed singing their theme song: “We Are the Champions.”

Sloan went on to participate in the British Columbia Special Olympics during his high school years and long before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Sloan’s charity run began two months ago, during which time he logged 20 kilometres per week. In celebration of his 80-kilometre run, he was joined by Surrey firefighters, former schoolteachers, family members, friends and Kovacs’ husband, Dennis, and son Morgan.

The final run of the total 160 kilometres was held November 20, 2021. Sloan ran with friends, family, his Special Olympics teammates and coach, as well as Kovacs’ son Dustyn. They completed one final lap together from Simon Cunningham Elementary School to Bear Creek Park with the song “We Are the Champions” playing in the background.

Sloan has a “go out and be your best” attitude. According to his dad, Jim Sloan, “Josh loves people. He loves to be around people. He loves to help people. He loves to bring people together, and people love to be around Josh.”

As part of Sloan’s run, and as a show of support, members of the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society presented Sloan with a $5,000 cheque, and Chipotle presented him with a $2,000 cheque. Despite these two big donations and his social media fundraising efforts, Sloan had not yet reached his $20,000 fundraising goal for the Canadian Cancer Society. After his story caught national attention, he surpassed his goal.

We can all be champions by finding ways to reach out and help one another. It all begins with a little bit of love, and love is often manifest as service.

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency has said, “Our Savior gave Himself in unselfish service. He taught that each of us should follow Him by denying ourselves of selfish interests in order to serve others” (“Unselfish Service,” April 2009 general conference).

Contributed by Neela Sakulsinghdusit, Surrey British Columbia Stake Communication Specialist

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