It was May 12 of this year when Kurstin Bulas received the news that would change her life forever. Her identical twin, her best friend and companion since birth, Kyley, had died.
“From the time we were born, we had to sleep together, up until we were around 10 or 11,” recalled Kurstin with a laugh. “Even when I moved out for a bit, we made sure to have sleepovers. We were as close as you could get.”
Kyley had been struggling with mental health problems for a few years. After being diagnosed with major depressive disorder, her family watched her battle, and eventual succumb, to the disease.
“The thing about Kyley is she was so full of life, so caring and so selfless,” said Kurstin. “Someone could do something awful to her, and she wouldn’t hesitate to help them out the next day. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you how beautiful and special she was.”
Kyley and Kurstin shared a childhood love for one destination: Disney World. When they were offered one destination to travel to years ago, they chose the magical realm. They learned about the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. The pact was made. Together, they would run that marathon someday.
Kurstin, an avid runner, plans to fulfill that dream next year. Instead of Kyley by her side, her boyfriend Taylor Pfeifer will stride alongside her. Together, they have shouldered the tumultuous events of this year.
“I came to Taylor with this idea, and he helped me turn it into a reality,” said Kurstin. “I’m so grateful that all those who loved Kyley can still be involved in her life and remember what she was all about.”
Kurstin and Taylor will not be simply crossing off an item fron the twin’s bucket list. Together they have created a crowd-funding initiative in order to raise money for the Neural Health Project, a first of its kind in Saskatoon.
Headed by Dr. Dee Dee Maltman, the organization plans to tackle mental health issues head on, and provide support to all those battling their own demons.
“This is exactly what Kyley would have wanted,” said Taylor. “She was the most loving person I have ever met, and we both know she would have wanted those struggling from similar issues to have somewhere to turn. Within a day-and-a-half, we were over $1,000. Whatever we can do to help raise awareness and help support those with mental health issues, that’s the point here.
“Originally, the goal was $5,000. We’ve already upped that to $10,000, and if we raise that I’ll run the half-marathon in a tutu. As long as this opens doors to a bigger conversation, I feel like this is a great launching pad for the organization.”
Though Kurstin is currently sidelined with a knee injury, she is confident in her ability to train and finish the run in February. Taylor and Kurstin plan to stick together and cross the finish line together, just likeKurstin and Kyley would have done. The timing could not be better. Two days after the race is the twins’ 22nd birthday.
“That makes this very special. It’s going to be such an emotional day, and I’m so grateful already for the outpouring of support from people here in Saskatchewan,” said Kurstin. “I saw firsthand what mental illness can do. It took away a very special person from me, and I plan on doing what I can to bring the issue to the forefront.”
“It’s that juxtaposition of the happiness when we finish that marathon, and then the sadness that Kyley won’t be there,” added Taylor. “She’ll be there with us every step.”
All proceeds raised will go to the Neural Health Project. To learn more about Kurstin and Taylor’s crowd-funding campaign and the Neural Health Project, visit gofundme.com/raceforkyley.