Heather Purcell Leja leaves lasting legacy of giving for Wheels of Justice

Caregivers / Researcher, Donors, Patients

Wheels of Justice

The “Wheels of Justice” have been going round and round for more than 10 years, with Heather Purcell Leja at the helm as one of the Courage Classic team’s captains.

She founded the Wheels of Justice in 2005 as a way to get her colleagues in the law profession involved in fundraising for Children’s Hospital Colorado. Over the past decade, she’s helped hundreds of fellow cyclists pedal to fundraising success, building what has become the annual bike tour’s largest team of riders.

After the team’s first Courage Classic ride in 2006, Leja was approached by the Morgan Adams Foundation about designating the team’s funds to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD). Heather agreed, and since then, the team has raised nearly $3 million for CCBD patients and research.

What used to be a team of attorneys has become a diverse team of cyclists, all unified by a desire to make a difference for pediatric cancer patients.

“Many of our riders are former patients, current patients, doctors, nurses, administrators and families from the Cancer Center,” said Heather. “It has been incredibly enriching for us to have that kind of direct connection to those who are impacted by our philanthropy.”

Martha is one of those patients. Last year, the 14-year-old was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. In May, just a few months after finishing chemotherapy, she ran the Bolder Boulder. Now, she’s cycling in the Courage Classic for the first time with the Wheels of Justice team.

The money raised by Wheels of Justice funds ground-breaking research and programs at the hospital, such as the CCBD Wellness Program. The Wellness Program focuses on promoting the healthy adjustment of kids and families at the CCBD by providing resources such as counseling and therapy.

This year, Heather stepped down from her role as team captain, but she’ll continue to ride with fellow Wheels of Justice cyclists at the Courage Classic.

“Participation in an event like this is not a drop in the bucket,” said Leja. “It makes a big difference in the fight against cancer and in individual children’s and families’ lives. It’s a tremendously rewarding experience. It’s more than a team, it’s a community.”

Heather Purcell Leja’s Legacy

"Wheels of Justice makes possible a range of vision and programming for the CCBD. Without the team, we would not be able to provide as much comprehensive care for our patients, would not be able to train the next generation of leaders and teachers in the field, and not be able to train researchers to advance the cures for the diseases that devastate so many families today. Wheels of Justice is our critical partner to help support those areas where grant funding is non-existent or insufficient. Children's lives are better because of what this team does."

Lia Gore, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, Medical Oncology, and Hematology
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus | University of Colorado Cancer Center

"Heather's dedication, energy and passion has galvanized the Wheels of Justice team year after year. Her commitment to the mission of Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders has been unwavering because she knows how important each Wheels of Justice dollar is in supporting our pediatric cancer patients and their families. "

Robert Casey, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus | University of Colorado Cancer Center

Heather was amazing in her support of CCBD through Wheels of Justice.  She always brought it back to the patients and their families. And while she did so, she was professional and fun, respectful and playful, clever and creative. She is a pediatric person in spirit!

Joanne Hilden, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus | University of Colorado Cancer Center

Heather is our founder at Wheels of Justice, and for the first 10 years, our guiding light. Her contributions to our cancer program is unmeasurable.

Thomas Smith, M.D.
Children’s Hospital Colorado