In the wake of the sudden death of his mother-in-law, an Oak Bay man is dedicating his time to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation and awareness of the importance of blood donation.
Since February, David Mackenzie-Kong has taken to social media to document his training for September’s Finlayson Arm 100km endurance race, using each post to tell the story of how cancer has impacted his life, the need to increase research funding for cancer treatment, and just how important it is for everyone who can to donate blood.
He was inspired to set out on this journey after Gail Mackenzie died of acute myeloid leukemia, a blood cancer, in November 2021.
“As I was sitting at the end of her bed, lucky to have that moment in time to say good bye, hanging above her bed was a bag of donated blood that had A+ on it, and I thought ‘that’s something I need to do,’ because if it weren’t for that bag of blood, we probably would not have had the time to say good-bye,” Mackenzie-Kong said.
In the past few months of fundraising and spreading awareness, he has seen responses not just locally, but from across the globe, with many supporters finding a connection through their own experiences with cancer. Just shy of $20,000 has been raised for the cancer foundation, and at least 50 people have pledged to donate blood after hearing of his efforts.
The strong response has taken him by surprise, as he originally set himself a goal of raising $5,000 before the race, and only raised it to $20,000 after being encouraged by his wife Anne Mackenzie-Kong.
“It feels good to be doing something for something (else) while you are achieving one of your goals,” he said. “This has a lot of deep meaning for me, we have gone through a healing process of grief recovery as a family.”
With the grueling endurance race fast approaching – it is scheduled for Sept. 9 to 11 – Mackenzie-Kong is stepping up his training in the final leg of prep work. Since he started training, he has run more than 1,800 kilometres, most of it up steep hills to better replicate the race course.
It’s hard work, but the 45-year-old said he has never felt better than he has running for a cause, and he jokes he has even been able to improve his pace times.
Donations to Mackenzie-Kong’s fundraiser can be made directly through the BC Cancer Foundation’s website, and he encourages people to donate blood if they are able, and to follow him on Instagram @davidJkong as he continues to prepare for the race.