Remembering Harrison: Vivian Luk raises funds for CHEO through the Desjardins Charity Challenge

“I love love love race weekend,” says Vivian Luk, who will be running to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in memory of her two-year-old nephew Harrison. 

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend brings so much energy to the city,” she adds. “The whole city, running community, and people in the neighborhoods come together. I love that people come out on the lawn with a glass of wine and cheer. It’s not just about participating in the race, it’s about cheering people on, and that’s what got me into running.”

Harrison passed away in 2022 due to a rare heart condition. Vivian is fundraising as part of the Desjardins Charity Challenge, where individuals or teams can sign up to fundraise for a local organization as part of their race experience. Participants can register their own team or join an existing one. 

In an Instagram post about her fundraiser, Vivian wrote “I will run three back-to-back races in one evening for a total of 17 km – one kilometre for each month that Harrison graced us with his vibrant personality, infectious giggles, and silly facial expressions.”

Her goal to raise $1,700 was quickly surpassed, as friends, family and the larger community rallied around her cause. “I chose CHEO because he was a baby and they’re an important medical service for children in the city. We’re lucky to have them around. My friends with kids are so grateful to have access to CHEO and something so specialized. I wanted to do something for children as part of a $1,700 challenge in honour of Harrison.”

When it comes to running, Vivian is just as enthusiastic about participating as she is encouraging others to join. “It’s about getting out there and doing it, then being proud of yourself. Setting a goal and achieving it is what’s important.” 

She points out, “Five kilometres is still five kilometres, it doesn’t matter how fast you go. I’m not going to be fast; I’ll walk and run. I just love being a part of the race. It’s electric.”

With this mindset, it’s no surprise Vivian is a member of this year’s Otto’s Ottawa Power Crew. Every year during race weekend, the power crew consists of runners who encourage and support fellow participants leading up to the weekend and during the weekend itself. 

To those considering joining a race or any other fitness activity/group around the city, Vivian encourages you to try it. “Just show up,” she says.  

“I think we underestimate ourselves. We think things like “I won’t be able to keep up” or “it’ll be horrible,” but it really is people of all different levels. Take the leap. Not trying is the worst thing you could do, and you’ll be shocked by what you’re capable of.”  

“Step out of that comfort zone and be vulnerable.”

You can donate to Vivian’s CHEO fundraiser in memory of Harrison here. Or register for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend and fundraise for a charity of your choice. There are over 55 organizations in the Desjardins Charity Challenge to choose from.