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Most of Jason Khalipa’s fans know him as the competitive CrossFit athlete, the 2008 CrossFit “Fittest on Earth” title winner, and the entrepreneur who founded NC Fit and has built a global brand helping people achieve their fitness goals. We know him as Ava’s dad.
Ava first came to our hospital in January 2016. She had been having leg pains, bruising, and ear infections—not unusual for an active 4-year-old. But when her ear infection persisted, her local doctor called for blood tests. What Jason and his wife, Ashley, had hoped was no more than “growing pains” turned into their worst nightmare: Ava was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“At 2 a.m. the doctor comes up. She’s like, ‘Hey, can I speak with you?’” Jason recalls. “So I go out there and they say, ‘Look. We’ve reviewed your daughter’s blood work and what we’ve come to the conclusion of is that your daughter has leukemia.’ And I just sat there in shock for a minute.”
From that point, Jason and Ashley put the same energy and drive that they put into their business into helping Ava’s fight.
“When we’re in the hospital every day, we would be stressed—it’s a high-tense situation,” says Jason. “A lot of people utilize alcohol or different measures to kind of cope with it, and for me it’s exercise.”
Although there are fitness facilities available near the hospital, Jason did not want to leave Ava’s side. So instead, he would find space within our hospital to recreate his workouts.
“I got out of the room, went to a nearby auditorium or out in the parking garage, and I used my fitness. And there’s time while I’m doing the workout and I’m thinking about her and I’m not thinking about anything else. And I’d come back with energy. I’d be energized and ready to go.”
Ava continues to fight every day, and her support system is a million fans strong. The Khalipas use their social media celebrity to spread awareness of childhood cancer and to raise important funds for research and family care. This year alone, they have raised $250,000 to support more children and their families battling childhood cancer. Inspired by their in-patient time with Ava, Jason’s company recently funded a new yoga program for parents at our hospital so more families can have a fitness outlet without having to leave the hospital. Additionally, Team NC Fit will be returning to the 7th annual Summer Scamper as one of our largest teams.
Watch the Khalipa’s inspiring story in Reebok’s latest “Be More Human” video premiering today.