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Marathon Runner Coree Aussem-Woltering has always wanted to run every street in Ottawa and starting Wednesday he'll take off on that task.
And he'll be raising money for area businesses as well.
Coree, a two-time Starved Rock Country Marathon champion, said with marathons and races being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he figured now would be a good time to accomplish his local goal.
He's added a twist, and a few extra miles.
"I thought, 'Why not give this a go?' and then I thought, 'If I'm going to be running down every street in Ottawa, we should do it for a cause,' like actually make something fun out of it," he said. "So we came up with the idea to run every street in Ottawa and raise money."
His husband Tom Aussem has helped create the "Big Run for Small Business" that will consist of Coree running every street in Ottawa and Naplate starting Wednesday, which adds up to more than 200 miles in a 12-day period.
To support the effort and local businesses, the community is encouraged to visit his GoFundMe page, which will be used to purchase gift certificates from local businesses and will then go to those financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and health workers.
Tom will also spotlight a historic item or noteworthy location in each of the run areas and the public can follow along with a map detailing Coree's individual run every day.
Some days will be 10 miles and others could be as many as 30, but he'll always start at 10 a.m.
And keeping track of Coree's movements will be important as the community is encouraged to find Coree and take his photo to be shared on Coree's athlete Facebook page for a chance to win a tour from Awesome Ottawa Tours, a gift card from Tangled Roots Brewing Company or a free oil change from Bill Walsh.
Tangled Roots Brewing Company Experience Manager Anna Wright said she loved the idea when Tom brought it to them and wasn't surprised the pair have spent their time thinking of others and their businesses.
"For a little monetary donation we made, we're raising a lot of money for small businesses in Ottawa," Wright said.
"We're only as strong as our community so if our fellow businesses aren't succeeding then we aren't succeeding," she added.
Tangled Roots Brewing Company and The Lone Buffalo have curbside pickup, but they too have been affected by the pandemic. Wright says they, like everyone else, are taking it day by day and remaining positive.
Erica Holocker, of Bill Walsh's marketing department, notes they too have seen a decline in sales and service. Reflective of many businesses in the area.
Holocker said they've introduced "touchless service" where they can bring a car to a home or workplace and even offer virtual test drives for customers but are also happy to support the community in another way.
"Now, with this run, there's so much hope that we want to bring to everybody. We want our community to realize this is going to end and we'll be stronger together," Holocker said.
"Our town is our family," she added.
Tom said it was his hope too that the social media contest of snapping photos of Coree around town will give the community something to look forward to over the next few days.
The group has already raised $1,600 and hopes that number will increase as Coree prepared to hit the streets.
"There's definitely been some chatter on Facebook of some people reaching out saying it's a great thing we're doing," Coree said. "They're just really excited to see how this project works out."
How can I donate?
To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/big-run-for-small-business.
How can I enter the contest?
A donation is not required to enter the contest. Visit Coree's Facebook page at Coree's Facebook page at fb.com/RunCoree to find a map posted the evening before of Coree's path starting at 10 a.m. Those that find him and take a picture can share it on that Facebook page while also tagging the co-sponsors Bill Walsh Automotive Group, The Lone Buffalo Restaurant & Tap Room by Tangled Roots Brewing Co. and Awesome Ottawa Tours. Winners will be chosen at random from the entrants.