Jamie McDonald, 27, left Moose Jaw Monday morning heading for Caronport. He's been running for eight months to raise money for sick kids in his native England and in Canada.
A 27-year-old Englishman is running across Canada for sick kids everywhere
Jamie McDonald can’t stop thinking about his mom’s home-cooked Brussels sprouts and homemade gravy.
The 27-year-old from Gloucester, England has been running unaided across Canada since early March, surviving on the kindness of strangers.
“I can’t stop thinking about the finish,” McDonald said. “It’s really unlike me because I’ve spent the whole journey just living in the moment, taking it day-by-day. But now I’ve got this close, I just feel like I need to get there.
“I’m so close, but yet so far.”
He started the journey on March 9 at St. John’s, NL by dipping his hand into the Atlantic Ocean.
After eight months and ten pairs of shoes, McDonald said he’s nearly 80 per cent done his route to Vancouver.
“I’m going to take my Flash outfit, I’m going to strip naked — If I make it — and dive in,” McDonald said of his plan when he finishes.
He hopes to reach Vancouver before Christmas, for his own safety and to see his family in England for the holidays.
As he continues to battle with the winter weather, McDonald is the first to say his goal is nearly impossible. But he doesn’t dwell on the slim odds for very long.
“I really want my mom’s roast dinner,” McDonald said. “Gravy and Brussels sprouts.”
The thought of being home for Christmas dinner is helping him accomplish his goal, but McDonald started the cross-Canada run for selfless reasons.
“I spent the first nine years of my life, most of the time, in hospital,” McDonald said.
He was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a rare condition that caused a cyst to form on his spinal cord. He had immune deficiency, had to miss a year of school and would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night unable to move his legs.
“At nine years old I started to move my body. The symptoms miraculously disappeared,” McDonald said. “I’m going to continue to move my body to try and make a difference with it.”
McDonald is raising money for the Pied Piper Appeal and Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, organizations in England that help sick kids get better. He runs for the kids, he said, and he dresses up like superhero The Flash for the kids too.
“I’m trying to show people, and especially the kids in hospitals, that it doesn’t matter how sick you are, that there’s still a chance to get well and be healthy. Everything is really possible as long as you just try,” McDonald said.
For all of the positivity, his body isn’t responding as well to the journey as he’d like to pretend.
“Everything is starting to break down. I’ve got chronic tendonitis in the foot and there’s just so much scar tissue that I’ve been told there’s no way it can heal until I can stop running for months on end, which obviously I can’t do,” McDonald said.
Serendipitously, Adam Pasquet, a remedial massage therapist, hosted McDonald at his house during his overnight stay in Moose Jaw. Pasquet and his friend Rebecca Parker gave McDonald massages at the same time.
“How could you not want to take in somebody that has that determination and wants to help so many people in any way he can?” Pasquet asked.
As of Monday, McDonald was raising money for the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. People interested in donating or tracking his progress can go to jamiemcdonald.org or follow him on Facebook under his website’s address.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.