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Spotlight: Running, paddling and cycling the Trans Canada Trail for Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Kalea Mullett is raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis Canada in memory of her sister, Lindsay. Recently, Kalea took on a 24,000 km challenge, spanning across the Trans Canada Trail.

Throughout the month of November, we will be highlighting some of our dedicated donors and fundraisers like Kalea. Read below about her involvement with CF Canada:

Could you please introduce yourself? 

My name is Kalea Mullett, and I’ve learned that I am passionate about experiencing life, supporting others and living closely to the natural environment. As a wilderness guide, teacher and wellness coach, I have enhanced my confidence and found great joy in serving others around the world. I also raise awareness about Cystic Fibrosis Canada, and I am happy to share my initiative with you.

What is your connection to CF?

My sister, Lindsay, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 2. I came along 14 months later and spent my childhood developing the most meaningful relationship with my best friend (Lindsay) —who I looked up to in every way, and took on the role of being her personal bodyguard. Especially on the hockey rink—as I played defense to keep her safe while goaltending.

The physical feats that were too challenging for her I took on, and the books and studious pursuits she excelled at while nestled in her hospital bed. Lindsay was a special kind of human with an ability to know and master the subjects she studied. Be it playing the piano at a grade 8 level, speaking sign language, knowing every worldwide flag, or acing school exams while not being present for over a month.

I recall many summer days jumping on the trampoline, playing soccer in the backyard, chasing fireflies at sunset, and enjoying our Friday night movies after biking around our prairie town. Amidst the differences in lifestyle that Lindsay was faced with, my parents did an exceptional job providing her with opportunities to interact with the world. Be it travels to Europe to fulfil her dream of exploring Paris, or redesigning the basement bathroom. Somehow, Lindsay masked her internal struggle with her joy of experiencing life.

As with many stories of this disease, it comes to an end much more quickly than we could have ever hoped. Although Lindsay outlived the original 6 year life expectancy, 16 years just didn’t seem like enough time for someone so special. I miss her every day, and feel better for having known her the way I did, and help to shape my choices and build a life with meaning and purpose. This was my connection to CF. My sister, a real hero in a pint-sized body.

What is your involvement with CF Canada?

This spring, I kicked off a fundraising campaign to run, cycle and paddle the Trans Canada Trail to spread awareness about Cystic Fibrosis. I kicked off the fundraiser to follow through on a promise I made 18 years ago to a very special person in my life.

On May 28, I embarked on the 24,000 km traverse through wilderness trails linking our beautiful country together with the support of amazing friends and family. Starting at Clover Point in Victoria BC, I ran the first stretch covering 250 km, arriving at Duke Harbour, Naniamo. I stopped at schools, interviewed with radio stations and newspapers, and met new friends along the way.

I then paddled the Salish Sea for 5 days stretching 150 km from Parksville to Squamish with friends who are well connected in the fundraising and social media world, and helped generate tremendous results. I then ran from Squamish to Whistler and into Vancouver for 80 km and then cycled from Vancouver to Princeton, BC for another 400 km. Totaling over $5,000 for Cystic Fibrosis, Spring will mark my return to bike from where I left off to Inuvik, NWT – 4,800 km.

What has been the greatest highlight of supporting CF Canada for you? 

The greatest highlight of supporting CF Canada for me has been giving back to a community that was once so integral to my daily life. There was always talk about hospital visits, nurses taking Lindsay out for ice cream in the city, and doctors offering to let her drive their car when she turns 16.

CF brings friends and family together in a way that really steers family dynamics. Not in a good or bad way, it just becomes the rhythm of our life. Our family grew in numbers, which is one of the hidden blessings of disease. So many people who care, show up for you. When Lindsay passed, it felt like we lost a lot of those connections who cared the way that family does. It’s as if they had vanished with her.

To come back to the community this spring, take part in the Victoria Walk for a Cure, and be greeted with such beautiful people inside and out made my heart smile! Being among others who understand was like speaking an unwritten language. A language that was very comfortable and familiar to be around.

Tips I would give to other fundraisers who are looking for inspiration would be to not wait 18 years to put your idea out there! Sounds funny to say now, but it’s true. The world will greet your idea with support from the most obvious to the least expected places. Just start! Get the ball rolling. A few dollars can go towards something, and before you know it you’ll be well on your way to a clear vision. Do it now, enjoy the process, ask for help, and be OK with making mistakes. No one has it right, and that’s OK—we’re all human. At the end of the day, it’s our efforts that count, so lead with the heart and watch the magic unfold! It is important to support CF Canada because I believe many people don’t understand what exactly the disease is all about or how it impacts the lives of those affected.

Working as an educator, I know that in order to truly understand something we need to find a connection, share an experience or be interested in the subject. Simply creating awareness from a place of passion, connecting people to nature and active living (and a bit of a lofty promise that may take the better part of my 30’s to complete) is how I will generate support and create a movement across the country as I run, paddle and pedal myself to all three oceans we are surrounded by.

What will a world without CF mean to you?

It will mean that the letter I wrote to Santa when I was 6 years old was answered—wishing Lindsay’s cure was found.

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