Rick Fall spent every day of the last three and a half months running roughly the equivalent of a full marathon as he trekked from British Columbia to Ontario.
The 61-year-old has been making the gruelling journey to raise funds for young cancer patients and was set to end his run in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Saturday.
"People were wondering if I was gonna be able to get this done. But I'm here now, and I think it worked out fantastically," Fall said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Fall began his journey in his home town of Duncan, B.C., on April 12 and headed for his current home in Sault Ste. Marie.
The longtime runner said he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Canadian icon Terry Fox, who lost a leg to cancer before embarking on his "Marathon of Hope'' run across the country.
Fall said he's been involved with local Terry Fox Runs and was inspired to set out on his own journey while collecting donations for Make-A-Wish Canada and Childhood Cancer Canada.
"I never pictured myself doing something like this up until the time that I started working with the Terry Fox Run in 2011," Fall said. "That’s when I thought, I'm going to try to do something for society by doing something on my own, doing what I love.”
Fall's mother and niece both died of cancer. A retired teacher, Fall said he also met many children with cancer over the course of his career.
"Cancer definitely touched my family. And I think it's just about touched everybody alive, one way or another," he said. "I don't think it will ever go away, but if we're able to make it easier for people to live with or be cured from cancers, then why not do it?”
When he first started thinking about his journey in 2013, he was reminded about how his niece was able to go to Disney World thanks to Make-A-Wish Canada before she died.
He approached the charity that works with children with critical illnesses, as well as Childhood Cancer Canada, with the idea of running from British Columbia to Ontario while raising funds for them.
The journey took a few years to come to fruition. Fall and his wife – who has been accompanying him in a support vehicle – started to lay out the logistics in 2015, planning the route, raising awareness about his fundraising efforts, and setting up a website where daily updates of his trip have been posted.
As of Friday, Fall had raised over $69,000.
"When Rick first approached us, we thought that his idea was both unique and truly inspiring, said Tiffany MacDonald, vice president of development at Make-A-Wish Canada.
"We cannot thank Rick enough for all of his support over his journey ... raising the much needed funds to help create hope for kids who need it most."
Fall said he plans to get some rest after his journey but it won't mark the end of his efforts to help cancer charities.
"I will definitely be taking a break," he said. "But I plan to continue raising awareness."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2021.
Rhythm Sachdeva, The Canadian Press