Going the distance for
Jayden Lee was not always a serious runner, but the drive to give back inspired him to get out of his comfort zone and go the distance for child health.
At 16 years old, Jayden was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer affecting the bone marrow and blood, and faced a three-and-a-half-year long journey back to health. Going through these difficult years of treatment was a pivotal time that transformed how he sees the world.
Today, when times feel hard, he reminds himself of how grateful he is to enjoy life’s small pleasures: a good meal, having his hair back or time exploring the outdoors. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without cancer,” says Jayden. “It taught me not to take little everyday things for granted.”
It is his positive mindset that made a 103.5-kilometre trek sound like an adventure, rather than an impossible journey. “Ever since I finished chemo, I knew I wanted to do something to give back to BC Children’s,” says Jayden. “My friend Cameron Van Klei actually came up with the idea of running from Chilliwack to BC Children’s as a joke. I laughed and said, ‘yeah right, like we could ever run that far’.” But on October 2, 2021, that is exactly what they did.
Jayden knew this run would pose an incredible challenge, but he felt inspired to keep going even when his legs began to cramp and seize up in the last 20 kilometres. “The furthest I ran in training was 60 kilometres, so having to run another marathon past that point scared me,” says Jayden. “Knowing the feeling I would have at the finish line and showing all the kids at BC Children’s that you can do anything you put your mind to — that kept me going.”
From start to finish, Jayden and Cameron were greeted by supporters who were inspired by his feat. “One of the biggest things I have learned is that there is nothing more valuable than the people you have in your life,” says Jayden. “I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of them.”
The run raised five times more than Jayden’s original fundraising goal, bringing in a total of over $125,300 for the oncology department. “I am extremely grateful to be in the position I am in, to be healthy again,” says Jayden. “To rally support to give back to BC Children’s Hospital means the world.”