Peter Celler Run Through Night

Amazing things can happen when you combine your personal passions and talents with your desire to give back to the community.  Peter Celler and his Run Through Night campaign are living proof. His hobby of endurance sport raised $14,710 for Shelter Movers Vancouver last year in his inaugural run, which enabled us to move 73 families out of abusive homes. Peter plans to continue this tradition this year, going the ‘extra mile’ by running 100 kilometres, or 250 laps, around Windsor Secondary’s track on June 19th, from 9pm through to the next morning. 

A father and a mechanical engineer, Peter discovered his love for endurance running in 2014, and has been pushing himself to meet new heights ever since. When he talked to friend and Shelter Movers Vancouver chapter founder Brian Vidler, he drew a symbolic parallel between running through the night as an endurance athlete and the struggles of fleeing a violent household. 

This inspiration to put meaning behind his pastime led him to run 90 kilometres in just over 9 hours during last year’s summer solstice with the initial goal of raising $1,600 to help Shelter Mover Vancouver’s clients. In the end, he raised nine-fold that amount.

Why Support Shelter Movers?

When I think of supporting an organization, a lot of times I think about what it would be like to need that organization,” he says. 

“Feeling safe at home, the place where you can go to feel safe from the stresses of the day, to relax at the end after a hard day’s work ... that’s something everyone needs. If you don’t have that at home, you need to get to a situation where you do have that. That’s where Shelter Movers, I felt, helps people get from one place where they’re in a place of danger or insecurity, to a place where they feel safe.”

Peter can also relate to starting a new life with nothing but a few precious belongings. When he was only five years old, his family immigrated to Canada from Poland, bringing only two suitcases and $7000 to their name. Having lived the experience of starting over, he believes families leaving abusive situations should not have to. “If we can give people the opportunity to at least keep their things and the life they’ve built up and go somewhere safe, then that feels like that’s a very meaningful thing to do and give someone.”

A Community Solution for a Community Issue

People gathering for Peter's run

Although Peter was the only one running that night, he was by no means alone. This event brought Shelter Movers and our mission to end the cycle of violence to the attention of countless members of the community. Run Through Night raised awareness and garnered numerous supporters for this event, and in turn, our cause. He acknowledges all in the community who helped make this event possible:

“Everybody looks at it and goes, ‘Look at this thing that you’ve created, Peter. You’ve made this event, you’ve raised $15,000, you ran 90 kilometers, you did all this stuff.’ And really, I was already running before -- and everything else, the support crew were the people who did it, and I’m incredibly grateful for everyone who contributed even the slightest bit -- because I just went for a run.”

The sense of community Run Through Night has fostered is incredibly significant, especially considering its aim to support women and children experiencing violence. Intimate partner violence and gender-based violence are often viewed as private problems that stay confined to the home. In reality, violence is a community issue that requires community solutions. The mass participation in this event shows the power we have when we are united.

He also recognizes the need for allies in privileged positions to contribute their voices and stand with affected communities. “Acknowledging men’s role in the need for an organization like Shelter Movers, the fact that the majority of abusers are men, it’s important to be a counterbalance to that. To show that there are men who support and will help women get out of these kinds of situations.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted him to keeping these runs solo for now, he hopes to see Run Through Night expand into an annual group event with many community participants in the future.

Peter has seen outstanding results from his efforts last year and is looking forward to success this year and onwards, but he knows that the bottom line is not just the destination — it’s the journey. “Crossing that finish line was a goal, and crossing it was a relief and a triumph to be able to do it, but what I enjoyed was getting there because it’s not the after, it’s the during.”

The First Step: Having an Idea and a Cause To Support

For anyone inspired to try their hand at starting a fundraiser, Peter has this to say:

“One of the things that surprised me the most about starting the Run Through Night fundraiser was how quickly other people got on board, how much support I received right away. I think people would be surprised how little it takes to get the ball rolling. If you have an idea to do a fundraiser, of any type, just do it! It feels like I don’t have this or I don’t have that ... It's just about getting the story out there and communicating with people. That’s the main thing to know -- a lot of people want to do good, and all they just need is a bit of a push or a reminder of how.”

Shelter Movers is a volunteer-powered nonprofit organization committed to breaking the cycle of violence against women. We support families as they transition to lives free of violence by providing free moving and storage services, helping them bring their treasured belongings as they turn a new page.

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