Keira McKenzie (centre, in blue) and her Chilly Squad team are taking part in the Santa Run fundraiser in Vancouver on Nov. 30. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Keira McKenzie (centre, in blue) and her Chilly Squad team are taking part in the Santa Run fundraiser in Vancouver on Nov. 30. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Young Chilliwack burn victim a top fundraiser for Saturday’s Santa Run

Keira McKenzie and seven friends raising money to send young burn victims to camp

Keira McKenzie and her friends are coming to town.

Two years ago the 12-year-old suffered second- and third-degree burns on her legs after hot coffee and tea spilled on her legs during a calamitous drive-thru run.

After nearly two weeks in hospital she also nearly died due to sepsis.

But Keira is back and she’s been giving back in charitable ways all year. A GoFundMe she created earlier this year has raised more than $3,000 for burn survivors so they can attend Young Burn Survivors Camp. Local firefighters pitched in $6,000 just to support her.

• READ MORE: Young Chilliwack burn survivor raising funds to help send kids to camp

• READ MORE: Chilliwack Fire Department surprises burn survivor with $6,000 to help send kids to camp

Now the Vedder middle school student is hoping to raise even more money with seven friends who will run the five-kilometre distance in the 2019 Santa Run Vancouver, a fundraiser for the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which sends kids to burn camp.

The Santa Run involves participants outfitted in Santa suits spreading cheer in a run along the Stanley Park seawall. At more than $1,000 raised by Monday, Keira’s Chilly Squad was the third top fundraiser for the charitable race, which takes place this Saturday.

Speaking with Keira and her seven pals — Leah Britton, July O’Byrne, Audrey Molloy, Allissa Anderson, Calleigh Jimmie, Saysha Brace and Kate Seifred — the Grade 6 student said it feels great to have so much support.

“I’m not alone,” she said. “It feels amazeballs. I’ve got lovely friends to support me.”

The eight girls got custom T-shirts made, and they will have their Santa hats and robes ready for the big run on Saturday.

Back when Keira was in hospital in 2017, it was obviously a terrible time for her and her family. But friends, too, were worried and didn’t know what would happen to her.

“If found out about it when friends were talking about it,” Allissa said. “I heard that she was in hospital and I was like, ‘Oh no, is she going to die?’”

Saysha said that when her mom told her about Keira’s burns she then heard talk about organ donation.

“I thought this is going to be the end for Keira,” Saysha said. “I was just hoping that she was going to be OK. And she was!”

In her long process of healing, Keira wasn’t able to do many of the fun activities she loves like running, horseback riding and jiu-jitsu. But she’s back at the dojo, back on her horse, and she’s back on the track.

She is hoping to raise as much money as possible for the cause and, while the run is coming up soon, she hopes others will participate and do their own fundraising for the burn fund.

The Santa Run involves a five-kilometre run as well as a one-kilometre kids run. All money raised goes to support the burn fund and youth burn camps. More information on the programs is at burnfund.org.

“Burn camp is a blast, so I want other kids who have had the unfortunate circumstance of having been burned to be able to experience camp,” Keira said.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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