Deirdre Janssen of Qualicum Beach trains in Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park during preparation for next month’s GoodLife Fitness Marathon in Victoria.

Qualicum Beach mom is in it for the long run

Woman will race in the Goodlife Fitness Marathon to benefit Autism Speaks Canada

When Deirdre Janssen signed up for next month’s GoodLife Fitness Marathon in Victoria, she intended to run for her autistic son, Roan.

Thanks to the surprising success of a fundraising campaign for Autism Speaks Canada, though, Janssen finds herself running for a much larger contingent.

“I’ve been getting individual donations from colleagues, friends and family,” said Janssen, 42. “It’s just taken off and become kind of a community program.”

Janssen, a teacher at Oceanside Elementary School, set up a sponsorship fundraiser for Autism Speaks Canada when she began her marathon training in June, with a modest $500 goal. But she exceeded that total in two weeks, and the amount pledged on her donation page combined with commitments Janssen has received is approaching $2,000 with about a month remaining before the Oct. 9 marathon.

A $250 contribution from the Oceanside Elementary Parent Advisory Council (PAC) got the ball rolling, she said. After she bumped her goal to $1,000, she received a $500 donation to Autism Speaks Canada from RBC Dominion Securities. She again recalibrated her fundraising goal, to $2,000, while smaller donations continue to come in from many individual donors.

“I had no idea how it would go; I’ve never done a fundraiser before,” Janssen said. “I’ve been amazed by how many people have come out in support of me and this cause.”

Roan, now 13, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Janssen also has a younger son, Willem, 10.

Janssen, who holds a second-degree black belt in taekwondo, has been running regularly for the past four years, and completed her first full marathon at the GoodLife event two years ago.

This time, she said, she was motivated to support Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to funding scientific research, national and local services, spreading awareness and collaborating with the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community.

“When I looked up the list of marathon sponsors, (Autism Speaks) wasn’t on the list,” Janssen said. “But I really wanted to support this organization. They are a fabulous resource.

“It was easy to go on the Autism Speaks website and easy to set up a donation page.”

In addition to financial donors, Janssen is also getting support from a pair of friends who will run the GoodLife half-marathon that will also take place Sunday, Oct. 9, outside the B.C. Legislature. The three women have designed team T-shirts bearing the slogan Including Roan and will each wear them for their respective runs.

Because the women are running in separate events, they were unable to register as an official fundraising team, Janssen said. But she has already made it a goal to assemble a team to run the marathon for Autism Speaks Canada in the future.

“The goal of the whole thing is to promote awareness of autism,” she said.

Janssen said she has been involved in the special needs community and served as an advocate since her son was diagnosed.

She said one in 42 boys is diagnosed with ASD, meaning most people know somebody who has been impacted.

“What’s neat is how the whole community rallied in support of my cause. Obviously all these people want to help. They just didn’t know how or where to look.”

To contribute to Janssen’s campaign, visit www.autismspeakscanada. Click the “Donate” link at the top of the page and then the “Support an Event Participant” link on the donation page to input Janssen’s name in the search field.

Just Posted

RDN to create conceptual designs for fire halls

Committee endorses standardization design of buildings

Oceanside RCMP asking for help in finding teen

Isaiah Taylor may be in Qualicum Beach, Tofino or Victoria

Coast Guard searching waters off Tofino for three missing men

Search crews are concentrating their efforts in a 41km area near Tofino

Washington State man facing murder charges in 1987 killing of Victoria couple

Two counts of aggravated first-degree murder filed against William Talbott II in Snohomish

30 degrees and warmer forecasted with heat wave in B.C.

The weather could stay well into next week, according to Environment Canada

VIDEO: Seaside Cruizers Show and Shine in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Hot rods, American muscle and more featured June 15-17

B.C. NHL prospect expected to make ‘full recovery’ after an incident in Calgary

Jordy Bellerive was injured in a reported house fire Saturday night

BC Lions defensive back Marcell Young levels streaker in home opener

Young hit the fan near one of the 45-yard lines

Police: Taxi driver who hit 8 Moscow pedestrians fell asleep

Two Mexican World Cup fans were among those hit

B.C. VIEWS: Orphans of our urban drug culture neglected again

Child advocate Bernard Richard leaves B.C. with harsh message

From marijuana beer to pot cookies, Canadian companies creating cannabis edibles

Manufacturers think that edibles will do well with users who don’t want to smoke or vape

Privacy lawyer warns against victim blaming in recent sextortion scams

Perpetrators get sexual photos of the victim and threaten to share them with friends and families

QB Jennings leads Lions to 22-10 win over Alouettes

B.C. wins CFL home opener over Montreal

Most Read