When you ask Kendra Fisher why she’s participating in The Million Reasons Run, she’ll tell you she has “a million reasons.” The former Team Canada hockey goaltender has witnessed the impact children’s hospitals across the country can have on patients and their families, both personally and through her work as a professional speaker in the field of mental health. This May, she will be lacing up her sneakers in memory of her late son, River, and to support the work that these hospitals do for families and children for both their mental and physical health.
Sadly, Fisher and her wife lost their son, River Malachi Fisher, two years ago at 32 weeks gestation. Until that moment, they’d had a perfectly healthy pregnancy and had even benefited from the increased supervision that comes with an IVF cycle. One night, something just didn’t feel right and the next morning they learned that their child was gone. That pain, says Fisher, is something that never truly leaves you.
“There will never be a moment that passes that losing a child isn’t forever in your heart and on your mind,” she says. “The constant desire to have him here with us isn’t something that goes away.”
Fisher says that during the days following River’s passing, the hospital staff became their lifeline and carried them through the most difficult days of their lives. She describes the nurses and doctors who cared for them as some of the greatest people she’d ever known and adds that it takes incredibly special people to work with children and their families in this capacity. She is participating in the Million Reasons Run so that other families will not have to go through what she and her wife experienced.
“I was able to hold my son River only once in this lifetime, I would give anything to offer any possible way for that to never be somebody else’s reality.”
Fisher’s connection to children’s hospitals hasn’t stopped there. Two months ago, she and her wife noticed their two-year-old son, Bodhi, was having some issues with dehydration. They took him to the pediatric clinic at Toronto’s St. Joesph’s hospital, where the doctors determined he had Type 1 Diabetes, and was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
“He was released that night, gratefully because his five-year-old brother was obviously dealing with his own crisis,” says Fisher. “The last time Mommy and Mama went to the hospital for his soon-to-be baby brother, we came home without his baby.” The next day, Bodhi began diabetes daycare at SickKids.
The Million Reasons Run is a perfect fit for Fisher because running has been an important part of her life for many years. As a former competitive hockey player, she grew up participating in sports, but her whole world changed in 1999 when she was diagnosed with a mental illness that nearly took her life and forced her to end her athletic career. Her psychologist, Dr. Kate Hays, taught Fisher how to build a foundation for recovery, and one of the pillars of that foundation was running.
“Running is my therapy,” she explains. “Some days it feels like my survival, it’s my peace of mind, it’s where I find my breath, it’s how I exhaust the chaos that sometimes attaches itself to every thought.”
Since then, Fisher has used running to get through many difficult times, including losing Dr. Hays to cancer earlier this year. Before she passed, Hays made Fisher promise that she’d never stop running, and reminded her to write down all the reasons running makes her feel better so on the days she doesn’t feel like putting her shoes on, it’s right there for her to see.
Fisher has seen the immense impact Canada’s children’s hospitals have had on other families, and through her work as a speaker on mental health, she has referred many children and their families to the mental health support services these hospitals provide. This May, she’ll be running for both River and Bodhi to raise valuable funds so these programs can continue, and to support the research these institutions do to provide life-saving care for other children.
“It seems I am destined to forever be tied to Sick Kids and will be running in River’s memory and for our little T1D warrior, Bodhi,” says Fisher.
To learn more about the Million Reasons Run and how you can participate, head to https://www.millionreasons.run/.