Reservist strides to help sick kids

Two people pose holding a giant cheque for $400.
Second Lieutenant Yana Hempler raised money for sick children and their families through her charity, Run4Dreams. Photo: Lookout, CFB Esquimalt

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Peter Mallett – Lookout, CFB Esquimalt

A reservist in British Columbia is rallying the support of the running community around her cause: pounding the pavement to assist critically ill children.

Second Lieutenant Yana Hempler, a logistics officer with 39 Service Battalion, launched her new charity Run4Dreams late last year to provide financial assistance for sick children and their families.

This runner’s charity is one with a unique twist. It does not raise money through pledges in a formal race. Instead, participants register, run five kilometres on their own time, and record their results online.

“In a physical race, everyone has to be in one place at one time, so it really limits the amount of people you can get involved,” said 2Lt Hempler. “In a virtual race, you get to run your own race at your own pace and time it yourself, or you can also submit your results from a local race.”

In mid-October, Run4Dreams held its first-ever virtual race. It raised $400 with 32 competitors in four Canadian cities.

“We had good feedback on the first Run4Dreams event. We are now in the growth stage and our registration is starting to pick up,” she said.

Funds raised by Run4Dreams go to support the Help Fill a Dream Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial assistance and care for children under 19 suffering from life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The concept for Run4Dreams came to her in August 2017 during a daily training run on the trail that encircles Victoria International Airport.

“I’d seen virtual races starting to emerge in the United States, but at the time I hadn’t seen any in Canada and wanted to organize one,” she says.

While she is confident she can catch the attention of more seasoned runners with Run4Dreams, she also wants to entice beginners and those with no competitive running experience to participate.

For more information or to register, visit the Run4Dreams website.

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