Walking the Extra Mile

By Elaine Jaques, Bothwell, Ontario, Canada

One day after his 80th birthday in November, Merv Jaques of Bothwell, Ontario, Canada, a lifetime Community of Christ member, completed a personal walking marathon of 26.2 miles (42.2 km) at the Chatham Campus of St. Clair College.

When he was diagnosed with diabetes in 1982, doctors suggested he take up walking to improve his health. Jaques soon he was briskly covering up to 13 kilometers (eight miles) a day.

After seeing an article about Ronald McDonald House Charities a few years ago, he became attached to the cause. In a move that reflected the Mission Initiative of Abolish Poverty, End Suffering, he decided to embark on a fund-raising walk for his 80th birthday. Jaques hoped to raise $5,000.

His family spread the word. Supportive messages poured in from several high-profile people, including Chris Hadfield, Don Cherry, Clara Hughes, Jerry Howarth, and Anne Murray.

Brianna McLellan, 8, a great-great-niece, became his poster child for the campaign. Her family had spent several weeks at the Ronald McDonald House in London, Ontario, after her birth.

City News in Toronto, Ontario, named Jaques Athlete of the Week. Newspapers and radio stations in Chatham, Wallaceburg, and Thamesville have followed his journey. He also has been interviewed by a Globe and Mail journalist from London, England.

In December, Merv traveled to London, Ontario, where Ronald McDonald House officially thanked him for raising $16,521.20.

When asked about his longevity and good health, Jaques said he was passionate about food selection and daily exercise. He also was asked if he would consider walking another marathon at 90.

“If I decide I can go and do another marathon, I might do it. I have to live between now and 90, and that’s 10 years away,” he said, laughing. “I’m very happy with what I’ve done. It’s been a spectacular journey.”

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