Run 4 the Health of It

Luke Harris and Ges Bushe at the BC High School Cross Country championships 2015 Ges Bushe (left) and Luke Harris (right) at the BC High School Cross Country championships 2015
Grade 12 student Luke Harris and Ges Bushe share a love of running and are motivating each other to overcome obstacles. With his new initiative Run 4 the Health of It, Luke is an athlete turned advocate – he’s encouraging high schools across BC to include students with special needs in both Cross Country and Track & Field teams. So far, he’s sent out 138 letters to BC high schools. He’s also written to BC Athletics, the provincial amateur sports organization for Track & Field, to ensure para-athletes will be accommodated at the BC Provincial Cross Country Championships during this school year.

Luke’s Track Record

As an athlete, Luke discovered his abilities and passion for running in high school. Spending most of his free time training on the track, he became the age group BC provincial champion in the 800m from 2013 through 2015, and ranked as high as 4th as a national runner in Canada.

His high school running career came to a sudden halt when two bone tumors were discovered in his right lower leg. Although not cancerous, the tumors did considerable damage to the surrounding nerve and muscle tissue.

Guiding Ges

The thought of not being able to compete again was heartbreaking. It was during recovery from a surgery to remove the tumors when Luke heard about Ges Bushe – a young man on the autism spectrum who struggles with gross motor development and communication skills. Despite his struggles, Ges was participating in high school cross country races throughout the North Shore mountains.

Inspired by Ges’ determination and spirit, Luke volunteered to be his guide soon after doctors cleared him for light jogging. That November, the pair took part in the High School BC Provincial Cross Country Championships. It was the first year the event offered a para-athlete division.

Motivating Each Other to Succeed

Luke continued his rehabilitation alongside Ges through the winter.

The two have have come a long way since then.

This spring, Ges ran his first race without a guide, perfectly staying within his lane. Having trained alongside Ges the entire winter, Ges’ motivation spilled over to Luke, who reached the finals in the senior 800m – something he didn’t think was possible in the days after his surgery.

Ges and Luke on a track smiling Photo credit:
Kevin Hill/North Shore News
“I want high schools to be aware that BC Athletics support the inclusion of High School [para-]athletes at Championships. West Vancouver high school coaches advocated for Ges' inclusion. I am grateful for their efforts and plan to continue to advocate for this very necessary change.“ – Luke Harris

Learn More

To read more about Luke and Ges, and the Run 4 the Health of It initiative, see:

“Nice Guys Sometimes Finish First” – North Shore News – April 22, 2016

"Para-athlete, recovering B.C. champion overcome adversity together" – CTV News Vancouver – September 28, 2016