Leonard is fairly new to running. But he and his family have a long-time SickKids connection. “I’ve worked here 14 years now,” he says, “my mom’s been with SickKids 40 years, and my sister 11. My youngest sister just started in the ER as a registration clerk. Combined, I think we have 66 years of history here.” Leonard will be taking on his biggest challenge so far by running the half-marathon course at the Scotiabank Marathon on October 22.
“Funnily enough,” he says, “I wouldn’t consider myself a runner. This year, I decided to challenge myself physically.” His first race was a 5k mud run. “I survived,” he says, with a laugh, “so I thought, ‘OK, what’s next?’” He was on his way.
Today, Leonard works with SickKids Foundation as a fundraiser, but the first part of his career was spent with the hospital, working internationally in Doha, Qatar, and most recently in South Africa, getting the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital up and running. His international experience informs his decision to fundraise for SickKids when he runs. “An institution of this calibre has developed so much expertise in pediatric care, education and research – we need to share it with the world. I strongly believe where you live shouldn’t determine if you live. That’s our vision – healthier children, a better world.”
Leonard encourages anyone who’s running to do it for SickKids. And he’s got advice for those, like him, who are developing as runners: “If you’d asked me even a year ago if I could run 5k without passing out, I would’ve said ‘no’. But you just have to keep pushing yourself. Maybe next year, I’ll do a full marathon. We’ll see.”