Chilliwack’s Jayden Lee wanted to make a difference for children with leukemia, so he ran 103 kilometres.
By the end of his run, he raised over $125,000 for the cause.
Shortly after 7 p.m. on Oct. 21, Lee and close friend Cameron Van Klei left the Century 21 Creekside Realty parking lot on Luckakuck Way.
Destination, B.C. Children’s Hospital on Oak Street in Vancouver.
“The day leading up to it, I was very nervous, but super excited at the same time,” Lee said. “One of those things I’ve learned in life is to do things that scare you, and this was absolutely terrifying. But getting out of your comfort zone helps you grow as a person, and that’s what it did for me.”
Many times along the way, 22-year-old Lee thought about his own experience as a cancer survivor.
He was diagnosed with leukemia when he was in Grade 10 and endured three-and-a-half years of treatment at B.C. Children’s Hospital. With the help of nurses and doctors, Lee won his fight, and those memories of pain and despair, hope and triumph helped power him through the run.
“My body was telling me I was done after 60 kilometres and I still had the equivalent of a marathon to go,” he said. “I had those kids at the hospital in mind, but this was also something I needed to do for myself. To know that I spent three-and-a-half years at that hospital, and now to be able to run from Chilliwack to there is something that kept me going.”
Lee and Van Klei arrived at B.C. Children’s Hospital the next afternoon, running through a balloon archway to the cheers of friends, family, B.C. Children’s Hospital staff and patients.
“That was pretty cool and emotional, and the coolest thing was meeting the kids who are current Oncology patients,” Lee said. “There was a little girl saying she wants to run like me, and her mom messaged me the next day to say that girl was running laps around her back yard.”
The final fundraising total was $125,367.72, vastly exceeding Lee’s initial expectations.
“My original goal when I first thought about doing this was $25,000 and my friend Cam (Van Klei) told me I should aim a lot higher,” Lee said. “I told him there was no way we were ever going to get that much, and it took a while to get even halfway there. There was a point where I didn’t think we were going to hit it, but we did and it’s all going to go to the Oncology Department at B.C. Children’s Hospital where it will be put to good use for sure.”