Aldergrove resident Kaden Van Buren trekked up and down the Abby Grind 19 times on his 19th birthday Saturday, July 12. He was accompanied throughout the day by trail runners he’d met on previous hikes.

19 times on 19th birthday: Langley teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

To ring in his 19th birthday Saturday, high school graduate Kaden Van Buren completed the Abbotsford version of the Grouse Grind – 19 times.

The Aldergrove teen started at midnight, to cover more than 68 kilometres of steep ground on the Glen Ryder Trail on his day off work from Newlands Golf Course.

By 3 p.m. Van Buren had trekked up and down the steep face of the Abby Grind for 15 hours straight, cheered on by “Rise and Grinders” he’d met previously on the hike.

To those who know the now-19 year old, the feat was baffling.

Just a year ago Van Buren could barely make it out of bed, let alone manage a continuous ascent and descent of more than 15,000 metres in one go.

RELATED: 96-year-old woman scales B.C. Butte with help of family, friends

Two years ago Van Buren was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, as well as Crohn’s disease.

His conditions gradually worsened until August 2019, when he found himself immobilized by pain in his joints. He was in and out of doctors’ offices and hospital emergency rooms.

“It hurt to sleep,” he said, mentioning a number of medications he tried to relieve his agony.

Close family friend Teresa Penner admitted she was unsure whether Van Buren was going to make it another year after watching the teen struggle with stairs at the Chief Sepass Theatre, where he photographs for LifeApp community events.

To hike out in nature had become a far-off dream, one Van Buren tried to keep alive as an amateur photographer with more than 29,000 followers on Instagram.

“I couldn’t hike for the longest time. I’d get up and walk shorter walks on flat ground, and take photos from there. But it was still so painful,” he said.

“What kept me going while in crutches was the hope of being able to chase my dream of landscape photography one day,” he shared.

“Hope – that was the biggest thing. To find a passion for something. That kept me going.”

Along Van Buren’s journey back to health, he discovered dual passions for trail running and cycling, too. 

It was a combination of treatments that allowed him to get up and move again. 

After putting himself on a strict diet and spending hours each day exercising to improve his condition, the teen promised himself if he ever got better he wouldn’t take for granted the ability to run or walk.

READ MORE: Aldergrove firefighter lugs gear to the top of Grouse Grind for charity

A biologic medication, adalimumab, helped him regain his strength to the point of something “freakishly unbelievable,” Penner remarked.

“Once I started feeling a lot better it made me so grateful,” Van Buren said.

“It’s the best feeling ever. I have a new perspective on life after being able to walk around and run freely again. It made me want to push myself and see how far my body can go.”

Van Buren’s next goal is to top the fastest recorded completion of the Abby Grind, which currently stands at 27 minutes (up and down). 

So far, Van Buren’s personal record is 29 minutes.

“This weekend or the next I’m going to beat that time,” he said.

I can't believe that I dropped you off at 12 p.m. last night at the base of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, in…

Posted by Kirk Van Buren on Sunday, July 12, 2020

Nowadays, with physical exercise, Van Buren only feels slight twinges from the arthritis in his right hip.

Though in comparison to last year, the active teen said “it’s nothing bad.”

AldergroveFitnessHealth and wellness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey councillor calls for ward system

‘Surrey is ripe for a ward system now,’ Councillor Doug Elford says

Crescent Beach pier closed due to COVID-19 ‘non-compliance’

City of Surrey closure follows recent reports of crowding

Four Surrey RCMP officers ride to raise cash during abbreviated Cops for Cancer tour

This year, the annual Tour de Valley ride is a combined virtual and team ride from Sept. 21 to 25

OUR VIEW: Surrey train tragedy a safety reminder for us all

Summer typically brings cautionary tales

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

Mission’s 7-Eleven defaced with racist graffiti

Racist insults attacking Indo-Canadians ‘shocked’ manager

B.C. scientist, 63, protests in trees set to be removed for Trans Mountain pipeline

Tim Takaro is reaching new heights as he tries to stall the pipeline expansion project in New Westminster

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Dinosaurs revived for animatronic auction in Langley

More than 500 robot dinosaurs, fossils, and exhibition gear are going on the block Aug. 6

UPDATE: Slow growth for wildfire near Harrison Hot Springs

Fire now burns 12 hectares, grew by 2 hectares overnight

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Most Read