Mike Boush doesn’t live in Ottawa — he isn’t even Canadian — but in May, he and his son will compete in the 2024 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (TORW) to raise money for The Ottawa Hospital.

As an American who lived in Ottawa from 1999 to 2004, Mike and his family received care at the hospital several times during the five-year period, and that care had a profound and long-lasting impact. Now, he’s determined to give back.

After receiving a work assignment to help open a bank in Ottawa, Mike moved here with his wife, Susan, and their infant son. The couple immediately fell in love with Ottawa, basking in Canadian culture and making the most of the city’s landscape.

In 2001, Susan gave birth to their second son at The Ottawa Hospital’s General Campus. Mike describes their experience with hospital staff, and particularly the post-natal care they received, as “wonderful.” Mike and Susan’s love for Canada and Ottawa is reflected in the name they chose for their son.

“We didn’t know what to name him — we just knew that we liked Tim Horton’s donuts,” Mike recalls. “We kept calling this future child of ours our little Timbit, and when we got to the hospital, we said, ‘Well, Timothy’s a great name.’ So, he’s actually named after Tim Horton.”

“We said someday we’ll run a marathon — it’s someday. We chose Ottawa, and we chose the hospital because it meant something to both of us.”

— Mike Boush
Mike and his son, Tim

Tim, who is now 22 and has been a runner since he was five years-old, will soon run alongside his father in Ottawa. It’s the first race the father-son duo will compete in together. But long ago they made the promise to each other to complete a marathon together one day and this year just happens to be the 50th anniversary of the Ottawa Marathon.

“We said someday we’ll run a marathon — it’s someday,” Mike says. “We chose Ottawa, and we chose the hospital because it meant something to both of us.”

Perhaps even more Canadian than Tim’s name is the injury Mike endured in 2003: While playing hockey with some of his coworkers, he was pushed into the boards. Though he heard something in his ankle click at the moment, the pain was manageable, so he didn’t think it was broken. But after walking on it for more than a week, it became purple and swollen, and a nurse at his office confirmed that it was, in fact, broken. He promptly visited The Ottawa Hospital and discovered he had fractured several bones in his ankle, requiring surgery to infuse his leg with various plates and screws.

From the staff’s kindness to the surgery itself to the expert surgeons and nurses who took care of him, Mike’s experience is not something he will soon forget. “The treatment I received for this injury was the finest experience I’ve ever had in medical care,” shares Mike.

Years after his injury, Mike’s friend, Huw Williams, was diagnosed with leukemia. Huw lives in Ottawa, and he worked with the cancer care staff at The Ottawa Hospital in a desperate search for a compatible bone marrow donor to save his life. They were able to find a suitable donor, the transfusions were performed successfully, and he’s now cancer-free. When Mike decided to sign up for TORW, he invited Huw and his wife to run the marathon, and they jumped at the opportunity to raise money for the hospital that saved his life.

Mike competed in his first ever marathon in Ottawa back in 2004 — which he completed on inline skates — in an attempt to change his habits and lead a healthier lifestyle. The experience ignited his love for marathons and led him to participate in races around the world, including several Ironman Triathlons. And while he is driven to compete by the health and fitness benefits, even more motivating is his desire to give back to a cause that is near and dear to his heart.

Mike Boush on a racecourse

“I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for the opportunity to support the hospital, to be honest with you,” Mike says. “I’ve raised funds for Alzheimer’s, I’ve raised for brain cancer, both of which have affected my family — I look for causes that have impacted me directly. And I want to teach my son that it’s important to do these things whenever you can.”