General Amherst’s “Run for Rocky” helps promote GSA’s



By Ron Giofu


General Amherst High School hit the streets last Thursday to help raise funds and awareness for its Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) as well as GSA’s in other local high schools.

The “Run for Rocky” came to Amherstburg after five years of being in Windsor. Money raised will go to a project fund in memory of Rocky Campana, with funds being accessible to any school to tap into for guest speakers, library materials and other projects.

The event included a 5K run/walk from the school that saw the route cut through Toddy Jones Park, go down Dalhousie St. to the Blue Haven Motel and then return.

Rob Campana, Rocky’s father, said he and his wife Nancy envisioned local schools picking up the torch after they committed to running the event in Windsor for the first five years. He said they wanted it to become “a legacy project” and have individual schools pick it up.

During its five years in Windsor, Campana said that General Amherst either raised the most money or had the most students participate in four of the five years.

General Amherst High School presented its own “Run for Rocky” last Thursday. Students and staff cut through Toddy Jones Park en route to Dalhousie St. for the 5K run/walk. In the foreground running are principal Melissa DeBruyne and teachers Dan Campana and Lisa Voakes.

“General Amherst has been unbelievable from the beginning thanks to (physical education and leadership class teacher) Greg Scott,” said Campana. “This is no surprise to us that Greg has carried the torch with the students and did this run. Hopefully this inspires other schools to do the same thing.”

The biggest thing the “Run for Rocky” does, Campana believes, is create awareness of GSA’s. Campana said GSA’s keep students safe and educated. He recalled Rocky being pleased when GSA’s became mandated.

“He did have difficulties in high school being a gay man,” he said.

Educating adults and educators is another one of the goals for “Run for Rocky,” Campana added.

“It’s all about educating people,” he said.

People in the LGBT community are “no different that you or I,” he added.

Campana told the students that “it doesn’t matter who you love, just love each other.”

“It’s a tough enough world,” said Campana. “Let’s start coming together and loving each other.”

Rob Campana (far right), father of Rocky Campana, addresses the Run for Rocky participants outside of General Amherst High School last Thursday.

Scott said the event was run by his fitness and leadership class and the General Amherst GSA. When the event ended in Windsor, “we decided we wanted to run one here.” It could become an annual event but in its first year in Amherstburg, at least half of the General Amherst population signed up with additional members of the public joining as well.

Scott told the RTT late Friday afternoon that the event raised $1,400, “which will go to the Run for Rocky Legacy Project which helps support and fund high school GSA programs.”

Jenna Fiala, a student in the fitness and leadership class, noted there is a family connection as well as Rocky’s uncle Dan Campana is a teacher at General Amherst High School.

“I think this is a good event we organized at our school,” said Fiala, adding they also oversaw food preparation, safety precautions and event management in addition to promoting the GSA.

“It’s good to see how many people are supportive of what’s going on in the community,” added Karlie Simon, a Grade 9 student who is a member of the GSA.

Trevor Klundert, a guidance counsellor and faculty advisor to the GSA, said having about half of the school sign up shows great enthusiasm for the cause.

“From the GSA’s perspective, we’d like to do it annually,” he said.

The subject of sexual orientation sometimes carries a stigma, particularly in a small town, said Klundert, but that is not the case in Amherstburg as he said the community is very supportive. A number of former students supported the “Run for Rocky” as well, he pointed out.

Klundert added the GSA wants students to be comfortable if they come out as being gay so that they can be the students that they want to be. One of the messages from the event was that “every face you see in the run supports you, loves you and has your back,” he said.


General Amherst bringing “Run for Rocky” to Amherstburg



By Ron Giofu


The “Run for Rocky,” a fundraising event for local high school Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s), is coming to Amherstburg.

After five years of the event being in Windsor, where April 9 is Run for Rocky Day, General Amherst High School is hosting their own event April 26. Teacher Greg Scott, whose fitness and recreation leadership class is helping to organize the event, said the Campana family’s five-year commitment to run the event is over but they hope it will continue in school communities. The event is in memory of Rocky Campana.

“Their thought was that individual schools would do something on their own,” said Scott. “We decided to keep the run going and give it a try at our school.”

Linden Crain, student parliament prime minister, said it will involve not only General Amherst students, but students from Amherstburg Public School as well. The general public is also invited to drop by the school and donate or show up the day of the event and take part.

“It’s a minimum $5 pledge,” said Crain. “Any other donations are greatly appreciated.”

Rocky’s father Rob Campana is expected to attend the April 26 event. Rocky’s uncle Dan is a teacher at General Amherst High School.

Proceeds will go towards a project fund with GSA’s from any school able to tap into that fund to help pay for guest speakers, library materials and other projects. Trevor Klundert, a guidance counsellor at General Amherst and the GSA staff liaison, said the next national GSA conference will be in New Brunswick and funds could be used to help pay for travel to that event.

“Even though it’s taking place in Amherstburg, it helps other schools too,” Crain said of the local Run for Rocky.

Student parliament prime minister Linden Crain and Karlie Simon, a member of General Amherst’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) stand near a poster promoting the GSA and the Run for Rocky. General Amherst High School is teaming with Amherstburg Public School to hold a Run for Rocky 5K event April 26.

Karlie Simon, one of the five Grade 9 students in the General Amherst GSA, said the event will also showcase what GSA’s can do and promote what they are and how they help. She said people don’t have to be from the LGBTQ community to help out. Klundert added that the April 26 event will also show students who may not have come out yet that other students “have their back” and will make it more comfortable to let them be who they want to be at school.

The 5K run/walk will start next to the high school and proceed to Toddy Jones Park. It will then go down Dalhousie St. to Front Road South (near the Blue Haven Motel) before coming back. There will be food and music at the start/finish area.

“We’re keeping things to the sidewalks,” explained Scott, adding they don’t plan on asking for any road closures.

The event will run from 12:30-2 p.m. April 26.

According to the Run for Rocky website (, “Run for Rocky was a charity run/walk that took place in Windsor, Ontario for five years which was inspired by Rocky Campana who passed away in 2012 after attempting to take his own life. The Campana Family, along with the Windsor Pride Community, Education and Resource Centre, wanted to share Rocky’s story. Through their collaboration, they have been able to fund GSAs in the local high school and post-secondary school systems, ensuring that parents, educators and youth have the knowledge and funding needed to help create Safe Schools, and creating a support system for youth in times of crisis. Rocky paved the path to make a difference while living, and the Run for Rocky Legacy Fund will continue to make a significant difference in his absence for years to come.”