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kevron2001/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The donor: Merv Jacques

The gift: Raising $16,500

The cause: Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwestern Ontario

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When Merv Jacques was diagnosed with diabetes in 1982, his doctors suggested he take up walking to improve his health.

He followed their advice, and before too long Mr. Jacques was walking up to 13 kilometres a day at a brisk pace. After seeing an article about Ronald McDonald House Charities a few years ago, he became attached to the cause and decided to embark on a fundraising walk for his 80th birthday. His plan was to cover the distance of a marathon and he hoped to raise about $5,000. His family got involved and spread the word about his walk. Soon messages of support came in from a number of high-profile people including Chris Hadfield, Don Cherry, Anne Murray and Clara Hughes.

Mr. Jacques set out on Nov. 19, covering the distance in about seven hours on an indoor track at a health club in Chatham, Ont. "There were a lot of people there. Some were walking with me but there wasn't anybody who could keep up," Mr. Jacques recalled from his home in Bothwell, Ont., which is near Chatham. He raised $16,500 and he's thinking about doing a half-marathon on his 90th birthday.

"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 added with a laugh. "I'm very happy with what I've done. It's been a spectacular journey."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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