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Honouring a true leader and friend

a sign in a park reads Jonny's start
Family and friends of Jonny Kellock came together to launch a fundraising effort in his name after he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer

When elite Canadian alpine ski racer Jonny Kellock was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer in 2016 at age 24, he responded the same way he approached the sport he loved – “with courage, grit and a full-throttle attitude.”

Jonny’s family and friends say they have Sunnybrook neuro-oncologist Dr. James Perry and the team at the Odette Cancer Program to thank for giving Jonny the encouragement to live his best life.

Sunnybrook was so incredible for Jonny,” remembers long-time friend and fellow ski racer Charlie McConville. “Soon after surgery, Dr. Perry told him, ‘Go live your life.’ They encouraged this adventure.”

Jonny moved to Vancouver and started coaching at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club. Despite his declining health, he continued to shine both on and off the hill – “a goofy, fun and mischievous guy who was also a true leader you could depend on,” says Charlie. So much so, in fact, that when Jonny passed away in January 2021, his friends worried that the void he left behind would never be filled.

“We knew immediately that we wanted to find a way to honour him,” says childhood friend Morgan Megarry.

Coming together to fundraise in Jonny’s honour

Morgan and Charlie rallied with a group of friends and teammates from across the country and, in less than a year, they established the Jonny Kellock Foundation. Funds raised support the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook (Jonny had a glioblastoma, the same type of brain tumour as the Tragically Hip lead singer and Fund’s namesake) and bursaries to help young Canadian alpine ski coaches expand their coaching expertise.

The first Jonny Kellock Foundation event, 29 for Jonny Boy, on what would have been Jonny’s 29th birthday in 2021, raised more than $50,000.

Family and friends gather together on a ski hill to honour Jonny
Family and friends gather together to honour Jonny.

“We presented the cheque at Sunnybrook, and it was moving to be at the hospital where Jonny received care,” says Charlie. “Even in Jonny’s darkest days, I know the staff made a difference for him.”

In April 2022, more than 100 friends and family came together to celebrate Jonny’s life with a weekend ski event consisting of an open ski race, group ski run and the naming of “Jonny’s Start” at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club Training and Race Centre.

Choosing to honour Jonny in these special ways also makes a difference to his family and friends.

“By setting up the Jonny Kellock Foundation and getting everybody together, I think we feel closer to Jonny,” says Morgan. “It’s a testament to who he was and how he brought us all together. Whether it’s a teammate from Ontario or a fellow coach at Whistler, Jonny had an impact on us all.”