A New Zealand man who’s running across Canada to raise money to help children with cancer is nearing the end of his incredible journey.
Jon Nabbs began his solo cross-country trek last May in Newfoundland.
On Friday, after slogging across the Atlantic provinces, Eastern Canada, the Prairies and the famed Rocky Mountains into B.C., he was in Salmon Arm, bound for Kamloops, then the South Coast.
The fact he’s seeing more of Canada than most Canadians isn’t lost on the Kiwi.
“Every time I head west, it’s my first time in that town,” Nabbs told Global News. “This journey, landing in St. John’s, Nfld., for the start of my journey was my first time coming to Canada.”
Nabbs called the Shuswap beautiful “and I’m seeing the sun for the first time in eight or nine days. It’s beautiful.”
“It’s the trip of a lifetime. I just pinch myself every day that I get to see this huge, enormous, beautiful, diverse, fantastic country. It’s just beautiful.”
To date, he’s raised $61,000 and has a goal of $100,000. The non-profit fundraiser will see money go to two groups: Childhood Cancer Canada and New Zealand’s Child Cancer Foundation.
“I know the desperate feeling a family experiences when they receive a diagnosis, and the importance of continuing to find hope, inspiration, joy, and trying to live through that period on your own terms,” Nabbs says on his website.
He also knows what it’s like to lose someone to cancer: His dad died from skin cancer in 2020, then his mom to bowel cancer in 2021.
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With that background, Nabbs says he’s upbeat and positive heading into cancer centres.
“It would be very easy to let myself get impacted by what you see in the wards. It’s obviously an incredibly moving situation,” he said. “And it’s a privilege to be invited into those spaces.
“The kids sit there and watch the videos I put up on social media for so many weeks and months in advance. When I actually arrive and share some time with them in person, I want to … make sure that my time there is fun.
“It’s a privilege to be able to go into those spaces and try to raise spirits a little bit.”
To run across the nation — he runs around 50 km a day, taking a one-day break every eight to 10 days — takes a heroic effort. Perhaps that partially explains why Nabbs dons a Superman costume every day he’s out running.
“I finally got the courage to do it and put it on for the first time when I was around the GTA (Toronto),” Nabbs said of the costume.
“I was expecting the kids would get a lot out of it, but I suspected that other people might think it would be super strange and weird and get some funny looks. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
“And there’s this other demographic that really, really loves it. Some of the most staunch and enthusiastic supporters, which I did not expect, are 35-year-old to 50-year-old guys. They absolutely love it.”
While doing his solo journey, he also pushes a three-wheel stroller, filled with supplies and gear, that he named Shania. He’s hoping to attract the attention of pop star Shania Twain.
Nabbs also stops at occasional schools to talk about what he’s doing and cancer treatment centres to visit sick children.
In Vancouver, he’s planning to tour BC Children’s Hospital on Feb. 29.
“I’m really looking forward to that. We have an awesome day lined up,” said Nabbs. “I’d really like to run past the Terry Fox statue by (B.C. Place) and pay my respects to one of the biggest inspirations for this entire run.”
Before skipping over to Vancouver Island for a couple more marathon runs, Nabbs will jump into the Pacific Ocean for an anticipated swim.
“The last time I saw the ocean was the Bay of Fundy in Moncton, N.B. I cannot believe that was so long ago.”
With Vancouver in sight, Nabbs estimates he has 14 marathons remaining — which means he could finish ahead of schedule if he wanted to.
But that won’t be the case: “I’m actually needing to slow down a little bit.”
“I have friends and family coming over from New Zealand, and people coming around from Canada, to be there for the finish in Vancouver. And the date that I’ve given them, so they can book their tickets, is Feb. 29,” he said.
“My passage through the Rockies, so far, was unexpectedly quick. I’m sitting here in Salmon Arm with only 14 marathons left to run and I still have (20) days to do it.”
His itinerary has him leaving Salmon Arm on Saturday and arriving in Kamloops sometime Sunday evening.
For more information about Nabbs’ run, including how to donate, visit his website or his Instagram page.
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.