The Flash will be at this Sunday’s Boogie The Bridge event — but it’s with a heavy heart and a determination to do something different this year to honour a special person.
Elwood Delaney — for years known as The Flash at the annual fundraiser that begins in Riverside Park — will be running with the memory of his great-aunt fuelling each step.
Dorothy Sewell was one of 10 people killed on Monday after a man in a van mowed down dozens of people as they walked along a sidewalk on Yonge Street.
But Sewell is more than another victim to Delaney — she’s the woman who always called on birthdays and at Christmas.
She’s the one he took his family to visit last summer when the Delaneys went to Toronto, where Sewell had been living for years.
She’s the woman who would volunteer at soup kitchens near her home.
She’s the woman who would read to seniors every week.
She’s the woman who loved to watch the Blue Jays and the Maple Leafs, a real sports fan who Delaney said inspired his own love of sports.
She’s the woman who has always been just Nan to Delaney and Great-Nan to his three children.
Delaney learned of Sewell’s death through her family early on Tuesday, just hours after Toronto police arrested Alek Minassian outside the white van he was driving at the time.
Delaney called a friend in Toronto, asking him to take flowers to what has become a memorial wall for the dead and injured.
He told his nine-year-old about the death and said he took it pretty well considering he’s only nine.
Delaney’s five-year-old daughter, however, was stricken by the news, as much a result of her age as it is knowing she finally met last year the relative who would call on her birthdays.
Delaney said he’s hurt and grief-stricken, but he’s also angry, not only for his own loss, but for the families who have also lost members much younger than Sewell, who would have celebrated her 81st birthday this year.
“Nan had a good, solid life,” Delaney said. “She would just be a buddy to people who needed a buddy.”
Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Two of the dead were from South Korea and one from Jordan.
Facebook has confirmed that a widely circulated post that praises Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and then himself at the University of California in 2014, appears to have come from Minassian’s account, though it says it’s impossible to know who was using the account at the time the post was made.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the account has since been deleted.
— with files from Canadian Press