Million Reasons Run: Linda’s story

Million Reasons Run: Linda's story

The Million Reasons Run virtual challenge has given hope to many Canadian families, raising more than $3.5 million since its inception in 2021 and creating a way to support 13 Canadian children’s hospitals across the country. The run will return for the entire month of May 2023, and represents a chance for Canadian runners to help raise much-needed funds for our children’s hospitals. (Sign up to start fundraising at the Million Reasons Run website, here.)

The beneficiaries of this fundraising are vulnerable children who are ill enough to have to spend time in hospital. Luckily, our children’s hospitals are some of the best in the world. This is one family’s story.

Million Reasons Run Myles Lynch
Photo: Courtesy of Linda Lynch

Linda Lynch is running with the goals of covering 150 km and raising $5,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), a place that has played a significant role in the life of her family. lynch’s son Myles was born with cystic fibrosis–a genetic disease characterized by frequent chest infections, shortness of breath, an inability to absorb nutrients from food, and the slow destruction of the lungs. Myles benefited greatly from the discovery of the gene that causes the disease, and its location on chromosome 7, by Canadian doctors in 1989; this allowed early diagnosis and treatment. But, sadly, Myles died in 2021–on the same day as the actress Betty White. His family of his is determined to continue supporting the research that made his life of him as long and as filled with meaningful pursuits as it possibly could be.

Linda’s Million Reasons Run fundraising team name, Honor Dignity, came to her while reflecting on her son’s desire to honor his own dignity and that of others. “He wanted others to respect and push themselves to their limits,” she says. “He loved having discussions with doctors, nurses and others. Myles had the potential to be an Olympic athlete if it weren’t for cystic fibrosis; he played every sport possible at the elementary level.

Million Reasons Run Myles Lynch
Photo: Courtesy of Linda Lynch

“While playing softball, his friend Jesse, who became a paramedic, would literally run for Myles; Myles would hit the ball and Jesse would run the bases. In this way, Myles’s dignity was honored. I would love for each child who is admitted to the hospital to receive care with their dignity intact.”

Linda was, herself, an excellent middle-distance runner in her youth, earning gold medals in both the mile and the half-mile (as the 800m was formerly called) at the Ontario provincial finals, when she was 17. Her kids’ names –Jillian and Myles (“a Jillian Myles!” she says)–came from her passion for running.

Million Reasons Run Myles Lynch
Photo: Courtesy of Linda Lynch

Myles was in and out of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) from early childhood. “My husband and I brought him to Emergency when he was a month old,” says Linda. “He was almost a pound less than his birth weight, and he had an ever-increasing cough.” The disease also causes digestive upsets, and Myles was going through diapers at an alarming rate.

“In the first year after Myles’s birth, we spent about a third of the year in and out of the hospital,” Linda goes on. “By the time he was two years old, the doctors decided to insert a feeding tube.” The tube remained until Myles’s first double-lung transplant, at age 17, in 2014. He appeared in a commercial for Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (affectionately known as Sick Kids), filmed as he was being wheeled into the operating room.

Myles would need two more double-lung transplants; he had one in 2017 and another in 2019.”He struggled to breathe, especially with every cold, respiratory flu and Covid 19,” says Linda. “If it was not for CHEO, he would have passed away sooner.

“As an adult, Myles looked out of his room from the Ottawa General Hospital, and said that we should be generous to the hospital that let him live as long as he did. The people who work there paved the way for him to be the youngest in the world to have received three double lung transplants. To honor Myles’s legacy, we donated his entire body, including his four sets of lungs, to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. Research is required to let children like Myles live their best lives. Thank you to everyone who improved the lives of children! Run, walk, donate–we have it in us to change the lives of others.”

Funds raised by Honor Dignity will benefit the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa.

To sign up, click here; to make a donation, click here.

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