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Police marathon reunites officer with woman whose life she changed

An Edmonton woman crossed the finish line at the Edmonton Police Service Half Marathon Sunday alongside an officer she credits with helping save her life.

Sara McNally has a history of mental illness and she’s had several interactions with Edmonton police during times of crisis.

“I’ve struggled for years with mental health, probably over 20 years,” McNally said.

“[Officers] have just been a very positive part of my recovery,” she said. “I have had many mental health calls where they’ve responded and always they’ve done their best, and helped and never judged.”

In 2010, she was partially paralyzed after a suicide attempt. In the years after, she continued to struggle with her mental health and physical recovery.

Const. Marie Filion was one of the responders on a mental health call for McNally in June 2022 where she was hospitalized.

“We talked about the struggles that she’s been going through and then I kind of geared the conversation more towards some of the things she likes to do for fun and some of the things that make her smile in life and keeps her going,” Filion said.

The constable made a real impression on McNally.

“She left her police business with me and she left a note on the back about smiling and I have it here today,” McNally said. “I carry it with me everywhere I go and it’s always in my wallet.

“It’s a good reminder.”

The pair kept in touch and McNally has regularly updated her police pal on her health and wellbeing.

“It’s just a positive relationship to have and an important part of the recovery for sure,” McNally said.

“Honestly, she’s come such a long way,” Filion said. “She’s been through this long journey and she’s just been working hard ever since and I’m so proud of her for doing that.”

To show her appreciation for everything Edmonton police officers have done for her, McNally was determined to walk 5 kilometres at the marathon, despite her mobility issues.

“It’s important for me to be here because it’s part of the journey. And it’s gotten me out walking, and doing something I didn’t think I could do,” McNally said.

There – as a surprise – to help her once more, was Filion.

“I had no idea,” McNally said. “It’s a really nice surprise and it means a lot to me.”

“Honestly, it’s rewarding for me. I know we can’t change the world but my goal has always been humanizing the uniform,” Filion said. “And showing people that we truly do care and we want to make that difference.”

The EPS marathon raises money for the Edmonton Police Foundation. 

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