Nurse, mom, advocate Sheila Henry runs 50K to raise awareness for overdose crisis

Nurse, mom, advocate Sheila Henry runs 50K to raise awareness for overdose crisis

“This past June when the BC Coroner released the number of overdose deaths for May I was overwhelmed with anger, sadness, compassion, frustration and more. I cried. I wanted to do something, I wanted to help.” -Sheila Henry

On October 10th, World Mental Health Day, Sheila Henry ran from downtown Langley, through Surrey, New West, and Burnaby to finish a 50K ultra-marathon distance in Vancouver on the Downtown Eastside.  

Sheila Henry

No, Sheila isn’t a seasoned ultra-marathoner; in fact, she’d never run more than 21K. But, with the help of training from her boyfriend Jamie (an experienced runner) and the passion to raise awareness and support the fight against the stigma of mental health, substance use, and the overdose crisis, she completed her 50K run!

Sheila’s 50K route

Her initial fundraising goal was $1,000, which she surpassed quickly. Then she increased it to $2,000, then $3,000, crushing those goals too. Since, Sheila has raised over $5,000 and counting, that will go to our Compassion, Inclusion, & Engagement Fund. Sheila has taken us from halfway to almost 70% of our target goal! 

In a radio interview with CBC, Sheila explained why she specifically chose the BCCDC Foundation to be the recipient of her fundraising campaign: “I found that I really wanted to have a non-profit organization that aligned with my values and morals and what I thought was important and I felt like the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health spoke my language. When I read stuff on their website, it really, really matched with how I felt about things. When I called them and had a conversation, it just reassured me that they were the right people.” You can listen to her full interview here.

Starting this campaign and completing the 50K run on Mental Health Day was deeply personal to Sheila.

A nurse working on the overdose crisis in communities in the Lower Mainland, Sheila sees and experiences firsthand the struggles people who use substances face.

“The knowledge and experiences gained throughout this time have impacted me greatly. Learning about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and how they affect one’s health in adulthood, both physically and mentally, has given me a depth of understanding that translates to profound compassion for humanity and our struggles.” –Sheila Henry

A single mom, who was also raised by one, Sheila and her two daughters have also encountered their own challenges with mental health. Eventually diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder, her eldest daughter, Kisa, fought depression and self-harm tendencies from a young age. Sheila’s youngest, Tayla, battled anxiety and suffered from a brain hemorrhage that required an emergency craniotomy, that resulted in a year of rehabilitation therapy and depression. Sheila, too, found herself falling into a deep depression for a number of years as she struggled with her ability to cope.

Sheila running through Surrey

The Langley Advance Times caught up with Sheila before and after her run and spoke to her about why raising awareness about the overdose crisis is so important to her. Leading up to the run, and after completing it, Sheila’s emotional commitment to this campaign is clear.

Our Executive Director, Kristy Kerr, spoke with CTV about the overdose crisis and why efforts from individuals like Sheila are so important for our work to eliminate stigma and provide peer supports. Working together with passionate individuals like Sheila means we can create more solutions and help more people, faster.

You can be a part of the efforts to prevent overdoses in BC. You can join the many others who are supporting Sheila’s campaign by donating to support peers who are the frontline workers helping to save lives through overdose response, providing harm reduction services and supplies, stigma elimination, and support to people who use substances.

Jamie Cross & Sheila Henry

Sheila asks: “Please take the time to donate, spread the word, be active, as well as show care and respect for others. We can all make a difference in another person’s day just by being kind.”

Consider donating to Sheila’s campaign today before it ends on Saturday, October 17th.

We have so much gratitude for Sheila Henry and all those who are supporting her campaign: Thank you!

If you’re interested in creating a fundraiser to support our work, please contact us at: donate@bccdcfoundation.org or (604) 707-2635


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