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Inspiration from the Toughest Beginnings

This post was submitted by Bruce Donaldson, a runner in the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon, for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org/guest-post

On the 10th of March, 2008, my wife gave birth to our son Torran. He was born at 26 weeks (due to oligohydramnios) and weighed less than 2lbs. We were thrown into a medical world the like of which we had never encountered and levels of stress that did not seem fair! I work as an air traffic controller and used to joke that I would go into work to get away from the stress of the NICU and the hospital!

Grade 4 brain bleeds, sepsis, hydrocephalus, PDAs, offers to pull life support, shunt surgeries, shunt failures, pierced veins in the liver…the list goes on, all of this before he had even been discharged…5 months after he was first born.

The hospital he spent half of his time at? The Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto. Part of the Children’s Miracle Network. Part of his life to this day, and a part of our life that will never be forgotten for what they gave us (a son who was able to come home).

When you are a parent of a child with medical issues, you realise once you leave the hospital that you become part of a wider community. You start to bond with people who have had similar experiences to you. Some of your friends become the people you met whilst in hospital, your support network becomes more wide and varied. You start to draw strength and inspiration from these sources, and you don’t sweat the “small stuff” as much as you may be used to. You gain a new perspective on life and its challenges. My wife and I remind ourselves that even when we feel “down” about the medical world we were in and still are, there are parents who have it way tougher and in some cases didn’t even get to bring their children home! It is a sober reality…but one that remains with us,

This leads us to Feb 22nd, 23rd and 24th 2019. WDW Florida…Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. We have always been Disney fans. My wife promised our son when he was in the incubator in the NICU Level 3, that if he came home she would take him to Disney. This because reality in 2013!  We now do an annual trip to Florida every February.

I had always been “aware” of the Run Disney events, but had not considered running in them before, usually due to scheduling, but also because I wanted it to mean something. I am a “runner” in the sense that I do it to keep fit, and have done 5Ks and 10Ks (and now half marathons), but being at Disney had to be more special than that.  Then last year, a work colleague who runs in the Disney events, and also is a supporter of my son and our family mentioned the Princess Half Marathon weekend, and mentioned the main sponsor for the event, and how I could “volunteer” to run for CMN and raise money!  The idea took hold immediately and I signed up to the wonderful group of “Miracle Makers” for the event with the goal of trying to inspire and give back to a charity that truly made a difference when we were in hospital and still does to this day.

We were told our son wouldn’t be able to walk, breathe and in some cases, LIVE!  He battled through some of the toughest times imaginable to the point where I am able to tell people that “He is going to run a 5K with me”(On Disney’s Castaway Cay), and he is going to run the Child’s Mile on the Saturday at Disney.  Drawing inspiration from this is what CMN and the community of parents is all about. There are 100s of stories out there of children who are fighting the odds, providing hope, showing courage that is at odds with their age. This emotional pull alone is what makes this cause so worthy to me, and makes the group who are part of it so special! We know first hand what the CMN is all about, and we know how it helps parents and children in our circumstances!

The running part is actually the simple bit for me (I am doing the 5K, 10 K and Half Marathon). My wonderful work colleague came up with the fundraising idea of running as a princess for each event I am doing. Whoever donates a certain amount would get to choose my costume for each specific race!! My fundraising goal had been ticking along slowly until I put this message out, and then BOOM!!!. All of a sudden my $ amount shot upwards and I am running the 5K as Princess Jasmine, 10K as Princess Merida and the Half Marathon as Princess Leia (Return of the Jedi!!).  It seems all it takes to fundraise is to be part of an inspirational group, and dress as a princess when you are a 43-year-old male. Poor Jasmine has never had so much tummy hair!!!

I am very much looking forward to the race weekend, meeting fellow miracle makers…and sharing the stories of courage and inspiration. It will probably turn out to be the easiest half marathon ever as the focus and drive are VERY much on the cause, and if that isn’t enough to get me through 21K…nothing ever will be.

We are honoured to be a part of this group and this event. We hope to provide the same inspiration and hope that CMN and our son provided us!

Bruce Donaldson, father and husband to Torran and Lesley XO

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Funds raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in conjunction with this magical event will help kids grow up happily ever after. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most.

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