Tackling the Trans Canada Trail for Cystic Fibrosis

Kalea Mullett • Robert Mullett • Rose Mullett

June 7, 2019, 5:03 pm
Kara Kinna


When Kalea Mullett was a little girl growing up in Moosomin, she says two people inspired her—Terry Fox, and her older sister Lindsay, who had Cystic Fibrosos and passed away at the age of 16 in 2002.

Now, both Terry and Lindsay would be proud to see their influence on Kalea as she, along with her father Robert Mullett and mother Rose Mullett (who own Home Hardware in Moosomin), take on 250 km of the Trans Canada Trail from Victoria to Nanaimo, B.C.

Kalea will be running the trail, accompanied by Robert on his bike, and Rose in a support vehicle. As they travel, the family will be raising money for Cystic Fibrosis research and Kalea will be talking about Cystic Fibrosis at a number of schools along the way.

But for Kalea, the 250 km on Vancouver Island is just the beginning. Over the next few years, her plan is to run the entire Trans Canada trail, from coast to coast, in pieces until she has completed it.

Being an outdoor person is nothing new to Kalea, who works for a company called Back Roads that does adventure tourism around the world. But where did this love of tackling the great outdoors come from?

“When I was a little girl growing up in Saskatchewan I needed something to do, so I found myself drawn to running at a really early age,” she says. “I remember the Terry Fox Run happening every year on a weekend around my birthday and I was like, ‘Hey, who’s this cool guy who likes to run too? He’s only got one leg and he ran halfway across the country.’

“Just through learning about his story and the experience of running with cancer I thought, probably when I was around 12, that I can finish his race for Cystic Fibrosis and honor my sister through the process.

“She was my biggest hero and that led me to pursue athletics. I always felt so free and alive when I would run. I would go for runs before school, even in elementary school. I would go out and explore and then take what I learned back to Lindsay. She was always so curious, asking ‘What did you find on your run today?’ or ‘Go see some things for me.’

“In the later years of her life she was quite bedridden and it felt like it was my duty to go out and see things and explore the world for her and then bring home that information that I had gained. I guess that’s been an approach that I’ve taken with me into the world, and with the work that I do now especially, it feels really close to home.

“There was definitely an idea as a little girl that anything is possible, and thanks to Terry and seeing the strength of my sister, I feel like now is a really good time to honor them.”

Kalea Mullett during one of her travels.

Why did she choose The Trans Canada Trail?

“It’s a bit more in line with my personal values than the Trans-Canada Highway,” she says. “Working as an active travel guide and doing wilderness travel, I feel so much more drawn to places that aren’t full of speeding freight trucks and cars driving by. There is still a little more room to breathe and I think there is so much appreciation that I have learned to develop throughout my life. In the outdoors where you can hear natural sounds, I feel really comforted when I’m in those vast tracts of landscape. It reminds me of our role as humans within this natural system that we are a part of, and refocuses and centers me on the purpose of why I’m here and what I’m here to offer this beautiful planet we call home.

“The Trans Canada Trail is a lot longer than the Tran-Canada Highway, but I’m going to keep chipping away at it when I have time off in between my contracts. It seems like a really cool legacy that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of if it wasn’t for Lindsay, so I’m honored to get to use this as a legacy run for her. Also to fulfill something larger in my life. I’m not too sure what it all means, yet but it will mean something in the end.”

Kalea says she’s also hoping to use the run as a chance to express the importance of active outdoor travel.

“In my life it has been really impactful and I’m blessed to take people around the world and see different parts of the country, but there is so much magic happening just out our own back door,” she says. “Sometimes we are too distracted with work or busy with our families and we forget to sit and look at this natural beauty that is all around us.

“It doesn’t cost anything and there are no strings attached. It’s always going to be there and I think it’s important for us to have a relationship with the natural world and to stay healthy and active so we can enjoy it fully all throughout our lives. That’s the message I’m trying to drive home.

“I’m going to hopefully make some field guides along the way to teach people the basics about what they can find on different parts of the trail. That will be a fun project to keep going so we can gain some education as well.”

Kalea is planning to try to fundraise for Cystic Fibrosis for every kilometer of the trail as she goes. She says the impact that her sister had on her is profound.

“She has been the most profound character who has exemplified strength and compassion when her life was full of challenge,” she says. “I know that life isn’t easy for any of us, but to watch how she went through all the challenges that she dealt with in her body and took them with humor and a smile. She embraced each day to be the best that she could be, not just for herself, but she continuously enhanced other people’s lives, and that’s what I’ve tried to keep alive.

“I was so moved by her selflessness in all of the 16 years of the life she had to live. I’m trying to use that as a model when things get hard, because I know how it enhances my quality of life. When I’m being of service and helpful and considerate to others’ needs and putting them first. I think that’s what opened the doors for me around the world with the travels I’ve taken on and I can’t imagine changing that any time soon. I’m a far better person now for living that way than not.

“I feel like life is a continuous scavenger hunt and that brings so much purpose and meaning to me. Sometimes I find her out there and she is in the shape of an animal or an unexpected friend or something beautiful that I had never laid on eyes on before. I think it is through those earlier years that we spent together, where I would go out and seek information and bring it back to her in her hospital room—that’s probably what kept me curious about travelling and it really sparked a passion in this lifestyle that I still do today.”

Robert and Rose proud to show their support

Robert and Rose Mullett.

Kalea, Robert and Rose started the run/ride along the Trans Canada Trail last week, on May 28, and should be wrapping up some time this week.

Robert says they are planning to do roughly 30-35 km a day and hope to be able to do Victoria to Nanaimo in eight to 10 days.

While he won’t join her for the entire trail across Canada, Robert says he hopes to join Kalea again on the trail as she passes through Saskatchewan.

Robert says when Kalea extended the invitation for a support team, he and Rose knew it was something they wanted to do.

“Over the last six to eight years I’ve lost contact with being involved with cystic fibrosis and it was something that changed our whole entire lives,” says Robert. “With the people we met through cystic fibrosis and the friends we made through it, we first lost contact with them after we lost our daughter. We kind of pulled out of a lot of things.

“And with Kalea always talking about cystic fibrosis and how Lindsay was always her pint-sized hero, it just kind of rubbed off. And when she decided this year to do it, we just kind of thought ‘why wouldn’t we?’

“We only have the one daughter left, and if we can’t support her on something like this, what is the use of being here? The store will run and everything will be the same in Moosomin when we get back.

“We haven’t changed the world by any stretch, but this might be one thing where maybe that $2,000 that she makes might be the thing that finds the cure. Who knows if you don’t try.

“I’m at the age where if I don’t do it I’ll be kicking myself, and I think Rose feels the same way.”

Robert and Rose says there have been some major advancements when it comes to the treatment of CF.

“The life expectancy has gotten a lot higher,” says Robert. “Where the life expectancy when Lindsay was around was getting into the early to mid teens, now it is nothing to get into your late twenties or early thirties now.”

Robert and Rose say they watched their daughter Lindsay embrace sports despite her disease, until she took a turn for the worse at age 16.

“She couldn’t breathe yet she could play basketball, goal tend, she was a ball player,” says Robert. “I figured if she could do all those things, then there is not a hope in hell I can’t do 240 km for Cystic Fibrosis. I might be sore or eaten by a bear, but I’m going to do it one way or the other.

“And virtually anything raised—100 per cent of it—goes to research, because most of the people that are involved with Cystic Fibrosis are parents. The president of the chapters are always one of the parents, the secretary, all the board is volunteer time from all the parents. Any of the funds they raise strictly go to Cystic Fibrosis research.”

How to donate

As Kalea runs the Trans Canada trail, the money she raises will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis chapter in each province that she’s in.

Donations can be made online by visiting her website

“I’ll be linking in GoPro footage as well. I’ll be recording the whole run,” she adds “I hope to check in with the viewers and share what I saw on the trail that day. I’ll upload some fun videos and experiences that maybe caught me off guard. I want to share the wonder and beauty with those who decide to check out the website throughout my journey.”

Sisters Kalea and Lindsay together as teenagers, left, and as children, right.<br />


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