Dawne Potis, described as the “lifeblood” that drove the Vancouver Sun Run since its beginnings in 1984, has died of cancer at age 67.
“Think of the hundreds of thousands of people she touched,” Jamie Pitblado, The Sun’s vice-president of promotions and community investment, said this week.
“I used to call her Mother Sun Run. She really was the one person who knew everything about it and was the lifeblood of the event.
“She was the face of the Sun Run, an amazing, giving person.”
Pitblado said Potis only found out on Dec. 24 she was “riddled with cancer”, and by Dec. 31 had slipped into a coma. She remained on life support in Vancouver General Hospital until Monday and died early Tuesday evening.
“It’s unbelievable. Everybody was caught off guard. There had been no real signs of anything being wrong.”
The Kerrisdale resident retired as Sun Run manager last year to spend more time with her family, including her husband, Nick, two children, Rod and Sandy, and grandchildren Tye, 4, and Maia, 19 months.
“Doesn’t seem right, does it?” Pitblado said. Potis had been originally recruited by the non-profit Achilles Track Society that founded the Sun Run with corporate sponsorship from The Vancouver Sun.
“The whole thing is pretty emotional,” said Achilles co-founder Doug Clement. “She’s been associated with the Sun Run from day one; an original organizer. She was the engine that made it work.
“She was the behind-the-scenes person who really masterminded the evolution of what was 3,200 people running down Georgia to 60,000 people. She was a major part of that transition.”
When The Sun bought the rights to the event in the early 1990s for $1, Potis the volunteer was hired part-time to manage the event.
“It was a lifetime of love,” said Pitblado.