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Surprise drive-by parade planned for Newmarket veteran's 100th birthday

Kicking off a 100-km walk shortly after his 99th birthday to raise $100,000 for medical research before his 100th, George Markow surpassed all his goals

One year, 150 kilometres, and several shoes later, it’s George Markow’s big day at last.

On Wednesday, April 14, Markow will be celebrating his 100th birthday — capping off an incredible year that saw him raise more than $160,000 for medical research.

To make the day as special  as possible for Markow, Tracee Chambers and Markow’s daughter, Sylvia Perkins, have arranged a surprise drive-by parade that will loop past his retirement home, the Roxborough Retirement Residence, several times. They encourage any Newmarket residents who have been following his fundraising walk through the past year to take part in the celebration.

The parade for the Second World War veteran will travel from Grace Street to to Roxborough Road to Davis Drive to Alexander Road, and back to Grace Street for further loops. Vehicles are asked to arrive at Grace Street (behind the Roxborough Retirement Residence) at 1:15 p.m. The parade will commence at 1:30. 

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor, York Regional Police, York Region Paramedic Services, and Central York Fire Service, and the Newmarket Veterans’ Association Colour Guard will be in attendance to honour Markow’s service. As an extra special surprise, Markow will be presented with the York Region Citizen of Character award.

Those who wish to give Markow a birthday card or present to help celebrate the occasion can drop them off at Grace Street before the parade.

“I am very excited for this wonderful event to take place for an amazing man that is so deserving!” wrote Perkins on Markow’s GoFundMe page. “And I can’t wait to see my dad’s reaction! I am sure he will shed many tears of joy!” 

Kicking off his 100 km fundraising walk shortly after his 99th birthday, with the hope of raising $100,000 for medical research before his 100th, Markow surpassed all goals when he first passed the 100 km mark in September, and the $100,000 fundraising goal through direct and GoFundMe donations in December. 

Markow’s GoFundMe saw daughter Perkins track the senior’s journey from his first few laps around the Roxborough in April 2020 to national headlines when his walk went viral.

Walking to this day, Markow has gone on to complete an incredible 150 km — approximately 2,200 laps around his retirement home.

“He’s a very amazing, commendable human being,” said Chambers. “We can all learn a lot from George.”

Of the funds he has raised, 75 per cent have gone to the Sunnybrook Research Institute, while the remaining 25 per cent have gone to Southlake Regional Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Action Fund.

“When I think of my dad’s life and what he experienced during the war, the hardships him and my mother faced when they arrived in Canada, and now, at the wonderful age of 99, deciding to make a difference, it warms my heart,” said Perkins. “I’m so proud of him, and I’m honoured to be his daughter.”

Unaware of the surprises to come April 14, Markow said he plans to treat it like a “usual day”. 

His formula for reaching 100 years of age is quite simple, he said.

“Hard work, no smoking, and very little drinking,” said Markow. “And of course, you’ve got to walk and be active.”