Join the team and become one of "William's Warriors"
April 6, 2022
-by April MacDonald
Lindsay MacDonald and Jesse Fraser of East Lake Ainslie can’t say enough about the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax.
“We’ve lost count of how many times we owe them our son’s life,” they explain.
Jesse and Lindsay will be running for the IWK Children’s Hospital in the Millions Reasons Run this May and they are looking for team members or donations.
The funds they raise will go towards life-saving research at the IWK, which supports women’s and children’s health across the Atlantic provinces.
If you are interested in running as part of their team and raising money for an incredible cause, they ask you to please join their team, which they have aptly named, “William’s Warriors.”
If you are not a runner then the couple says not to worry, they are happy to accept donations to help them uncover new cures and less invasive treatments through ground-breaking research and clinical trials.
The run is officially organized by Sick Kids in Toronto, but they funnel funds that are raised to children’s hospitals nearest to your postal code, which in our case is the IWK in Halifax.
Every day, over 5,000 children receive care and 250 children that require surgery at a children’s hospital in Canada.
Funds for research are needed now more than ever, and your support will allow researchers to uncover new cures and gentler treatments for kids.
Research is the engine that drives a million changes for the health of every kid in Canada.
By supporting this cause your money will support the discovery of life-saving treatments that improve survival rates, quality of life, and outcomes for children who are facing the most challenging health issues such as cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, congenital heart defects, and life-threatening allergies.
MacDonald and Fraser are fine, community-minded folks and although they are very well-known in their local communities, they don’t often put themselves in the spotlight, but for this cause they know the more they tell their personal story, the more money they may be able to raise for the children who need it the most.
When we reached out to them after learning that they were participating in the Millions Reasons Run this May, they said that they wanted to raise awareness and money for a cause that is very near and dear to them.
“Our son, William, needed major interventions in the early stages of his life and will require continued support from the IWK specialists for the rest of his childhood.
William is a Heart Warrior and a HD warrior – that’s why we named our Million Reasons Run team, “William’s Warriors.”
HD stands for Hirschsprung’s Disease, and it’s a congenital bowel disease that affects one in 5000 babies.
William also has Tetralogy of Fallot, a complex heart condition that affects one in 3000 babies. Incidentally, Olympic Snowboarder and Skateboarder, Shaun White, and Jimmy Kimmel’s son, Billy Kimmel, were also born with this condition.
Before William was born, the doctors noticed some abnormalities with his heart during a routine ultrasound at 20 weeks. After further investigation at the IWK, cardiologists knew surgical intervention would be likely, but hoped that they would be able to wait until William was six months old or more before they operated.
Hirschsprung’s Disease is not easily detected in utero, so they didn’t know William also had this condition until he was about a week old; unfortunately, this new bit of information complicated William’s surgical plan.
He underwent his first open heart surgery when he was just over a month old,” explained the family.
Asking them what kind of impact the care they received at the IWK means to their family, they explained that the IWK is a caring community of the most knowledgeable and experienced health care professionals that they have ever encountered.
“Our family lived at the IWK for the first four months of William’s life, and it wasn’t easy to keep a two year-old entertained in NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) or PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) when we were going through some of the most challenging experiences of our lives, that’s for sure,” they said.
They said that everyone at the IWK went above and beyond to help them stay together as a family during such a difficult time.
The social workers at the IWK helped them to secure rooms at the Ronald McDonald House, and they also checked in on them regularly.
“Ronald McDonald House fed us meals, entertained our toddler, and provided a space for much-needed time away from heart monitors and alarms.
The Childlife team looked after our older son during doctors’ rounds and played with him in the playroom.
The nurses arranged a dresser and toy box for our room when we realized that we wouldn’t be going home anytime soon,” explained MacDonald.
“All of this was above and beyond their usual duties,” she added.
“It’s hard to believe we haven’t even mentioned anything about the doctors and surgeons yet, considering that William underwent four major surgeries – two open heart surgeries, a tracheostomy (as a result of complications from his first open heart surgery), and a colostomy – and several more procedures during the first four months of his life,” they explain.
They added that pretty much every specialist in the hospital was involved in William’s care at some point – Cardiology, General Surgery, ENT, Genetics, Hematology, lactation specialists, dieticians, physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Respiratory Therapy, the list goes on.
“The IWK has become a part of our extended family and will remain in our hearts for many years to come,” they said.
“When we first took William home from the hospital, we were feeding him via tube and changing his colostomy bag regularly. Thankfully, he was decannulated before we were discharged and no longer required a trach to breathe so we didn’t have to worry about that, but we continued to rely heavily on the expertise of IWK staff even after we left the hospital,” explained the family.
They added that before William’s first birthday, he no longer required a feeding tube and his colostomy had been reversed.
“If you didn’t know anything about William’s story, you might think he was just a typical two-year-old, perhaps a bit smaller than usual, and this is all thanks to the IWK and their amazing support,” said Lindsay.
Asking what their hope is for a fundraising goal, they said that this is new territory for them and are unsure what to expect but that she and Jesse have each set an individual goal of $1,500 (for a total of $3,000).
“We hope to welcome more folks to our team so that we can raise even more money for a great cause. It would be so fantastic if we could raise a lot of money for the IWK and give a little bit back to the hospital that has given us so much,” they added.
How can you donate?
Go to the website: https://www.millionreasons.run/ and click on “Find a runner/team” and type in “William’s Warriors” if you would like to make a donation on behalf of their team. Click on the “William’s Warriors” icon. Scroll down the page until you see a red “Donate” icon.
You can also join their team on Facebook or share their page to help them to spread the word.
A few local women have also joined their team and will be running as part of Williams Warriors, they are Mabel MacFarlane and Melanie MacDonald.
The event doesn’t take place until May, so there’s plenty of time to train, or to lace up and get active.
The family says, “the more the merrier!”
More about the Million Reasons Run:
It is a free running challenge held throughout May. You choose your running and fundraising goals and run wherever, however you like.
Funds raised will go to life-saving research happening at the 13 children’s hospitals across Canada.
The Million Reasons Run takes place May 1st – 31st.
Registration is free, and open to anyone. All you need to do is sign up and lace-up. Wherever you live, whatever your running skill, you choose the place and pace to complete The Million Reasons Run.
Choose your distance goal, start your challenge, and keep track of your progress on your personal dashboard.
The Million Reasons Run is a running challenge; however, you can choose to move however you like – a shuffle, jog, or sprint. All running levels are accepted from beginner to pro.
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