St. John the Apostle parishioner uses winnings to support Colombia mission
By Lorette Salas
Special to The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--Sebastian Salas, a St. John the Apostle parishioner, has run the 2.9-kilometer climb up Grouse Mountain in a record 23 minutes and 48 seconds. His run broke the previous record of 24 minutes and 22 seconds held by a New Zealander who was twice the champion.
Sebastian is a 23-year-old who after many years of home-schooling and two years at Corpus Christi College went on to UBC to finish his Bachelor degree in Liberal Arts with a major in philosophy. Sebastian also holds a diploma in information technology from BCIT and has been managing his own computer business for over six years.
He is also a semi-professional cyclist who practises cycling for many hours a day. On Sept. 19 Sebastian competed in the annual Grouse Grind competition, open to people of all ages.
Every year the competition raises money for different health foundations. This year the competition was held to raise money for the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation. This was the third official win for Sebastian, beating his official 2009 Grouse Grind record of 25 minutes and 24 seconds. His new official time is 25:01. The official competition course is longer than the unofficial course.
The prize for winning the Grouse Grind was $1,500. Sebastian donated a portion of the money to the mission his family is supporting in Santa Marta, Colombia, where the Salas family has relatives, and where St. John the Apostle Parish has been helping in a poor neighbourhood every Christmas for more than eight years.
The parish has provided more than 1,000 Christmas gifts for children who would otherwise receive nothing. Before receiving the gift the children join in a novena (nine days of prayer) to the Baby Jesus. Many times during the novena the bishop and many other priests and religious join in the prayers with the children and their families.
This Christmas event would not be possible without the generosity of the parishioners of St. John the Apostle Parish and the efforts of volunteers in Santa Marta who are Salas family members and friends.
Monica Salas, Sebastian's aunt, is the main co-ordinator not only of this activity, but also of a catechism and lunch program held every second Saturday morning for about 150 poor children.
This Saturday morning mission was started by the Salas family in October of 2007, during a visit by the Vancouver members of the family. It still continues, thanks to occasional economic help from friends and relatives. Last year with the Ravine Creek Girls' Club the family organized an event that raised enough money to support the mission for a few weeks. They hope to eventually start a Catholic school for these poor children.
The Grouse Grind is one of the most visited hikes in the Lower Mainland. More than 100,000 people climb the Grind every year, most taking from 1-2 hours to reach the top. The Grouse Grind is a very steep mountain trail that goes from 300 metres elevation to 1,100 metres over a distance of 2.9 kilometres.
Lorette Salas is Sebastian's mother.