A Beachburg man with a Pontiac connection is embarking on an ambitious journey to raise money for sick children.
Russell Mackay was born in Charteris but currently resides in Beachburg. The 82 year-old said that one night while lying in bed, he decided that he wanted to do something for the children at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Mackay had been treated by an eye specialist attached to CHEO many years ago and said he had been touched by the work done at the facility.
“I really feel for those kids,” he said. “I used to go through there, see them crying. A feeling came over me … I decided that I was going to do something for them and walk.”
Mackay decided that he was going to walk from his home in the Ottawa Valley all the way to CHEO starting on Aug. 24, a distance of 125 km. Thing is, in addition to being an octogenarian he’s also diabetic and legally blind. He said while he can still see the road, it’s through a fog.
“I can go along pretty good, I have a cane … the cane is more for balance,” he said. “My right eye is blind, so I use the left and I have to keep my eye kind of glanced over to the right all the time, on the road or on the sidewalk.”
Mackay will be accompanied on his journey by his daughters Sherrie and Crystal, who will alternate walking alongside their father and following along in an RV. They will be taking off from the Public School in Beachburg, taking the back roads down through Arnprior, Carp, Kinburn and on to Ottawa. They estimate that the journey will take a total of 10 days, with the goal of raising $25,000 for the children’s hospital.
Mackay said that he has been training for the journey, walking rain or shine around his community. He said he averages about 2.5 miles in a little over an hour.
“I walk every day,” he said. “Yesterday I did 7.5 miles. Some days five, I’m keeping in shape … Somebody said, you’re awful thin Russell, I said, ‘Have you ever seen a fat racehorse?’ I keep going pretty good, I feel good.”
He said that walking has always been a part of his routine, even back when he was growing up on a farm on Concession 13 in Clarendon.
“When I was a young lad, I used to walk from home down to the store there in Charteris, there used to be a store there on the corner,” he said. “I was a walker, I always liked walking and running, ever since I was a kid.”
Donations can be made online at: cheofoundation.donordrive.com/campaign/PapaWalks4Kids. Readers can mail cheques to the CHEO Foundation with “Papa Walks 4 Kids” in the subject line to CHEO, 415 Smyth Road, Ottawa ON K1H 8M8. Follow Mackay’s journey on the PapaWalks4Kids Facebook event page.
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