Danielle Groenendijk doubled her fundraising goal for Parkinson’s disease in honour of her grandfather, John Kampman, after running 250 kilometres over 30 days.
As an added bonus, as if to justify the great support she received, the Chemainus woman is going to run a marathon Saturday just for good measure.
Groenendijk, 21, is a well-known volleyball star at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. With the busiest part of the season shut down due to COVID-19 in what would normally have been the lead-up to a shot at a fourth straight Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association women’s volleyball title for VIU, and classes cut back to virtual, she decided to put her extra time to good use.
Groenendijk, who graduated from Duncan Christian School in 2017, went back to the school to assist up-and-coming volleyball players and then committed to doing her fundraising runs Dec. 19, 2020 to Jan. 17, 2021 during a time that’s traditionally not the best for weather.
“Honestly, it’s hard to put into words what I feel about the fundraiser,” said Groenendijk. “I doubled my original goal and some money is still coming in. I’m thankful for all the support I received.”
Family connections through farming, the DCS school community and volleyball accelerated as the campaign went along. The month, Groenendijk said, “it just flew by.”
Her longest daily run was 18 kilometres and the shortest five kilometres, averaging out to eight kilometres, and ended up covering a total of 254 km, mostly along back roads from the family farming compound on Mount Sicker Road and other rural roads.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Groenendijk. “I’m thankful my health and body held up. I’d say I stretched a bit more than I normally do.”
She had one snow day along the way and plenty of rainy days, but also some sun, particularly near the end.
“You just get warmed up and go back out there,” Groenendijk reasoned.
She got into such a routine she felt compelled to go again Jan. 18 after it was all over.
“I think I’ll go for a bike ride [Monday],” Groenendijk chuckled.
Volleyball practices for the VIU Mariners also started up that day, even though there won’t be a season, so her timing was impeccable to complete the runs.
But Saturday is still reserved for a grand finale 42 kilometres to Lake Cowichan along the Trans Canada Trail, back roads to her house, a loop of logging roads and then back home so dog Bo can join her for the finish.
Most of the money raised by Groenendijk came through her Parkinson Canada fundraising page but she also received some cash and cheques that she will forward to the organization.
Kampman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago and is now in a care home. He saw Groenendijk play at the nationals last March but “his symptoms really accelerated in the past year,” she pointed out.
Kampman might not be able to fully comprehend what Groenendijk was motivated by him to do, but “I’m sure he’s proud of me,” she said.