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79-year-old walking from Calgary to Vancouver in support of cancer research


Through tunnels, over bridges, along highways, city streets and rural roads, Gary Averbach is on a personal mission on foot from Calgary to Vancouver.

“I said, 'You know, before I’m 80, I’m going to do that,'” said the 79-year-old Vancouver resident. “I talked to a few people and they thought I was crazy.”

Averbach is an avid walker who says he routinely walks the seawall and always thought he’d be able to accomplish the 1,000-plus-kilometre feat from Calgary to Vancouver. He calls it part of his "before 80 bucket list."

Plans for the walk started solely as a physical challenge, until a close friend with a terminal cancer diagnosis made a special request before he died.

“He grabbed my hand and said that he wanted me to do it to find a cure for his cancer,” said Averbach.

Not long after the death of his close friend Bob, Averbach also lost two cousins and his housekeeper to cancer.

“I thought, maybe this should be for all four of them,” said Averbach.

So Averbach added more purpose to his walk, launching the Bob’s Walk For Cancer Research fundraiser. He left Calgary on June 25 and has already conquered more than 800 kilometres. He’s also raised more than $400,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation. 

Averbach says the walk has posed a significant challenge, with tough terrain, elevation changes and scorching heat.

“That’s not fun,” said Averbach. “It has slowed me down a bit. I was averaging 27 kilometres a day, now I’m averaging 24.”

Still, Averbach says he has plenty left in the tank for the final leg of his journey.

“That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” said Averbach. “I’ve been through some really challenging physical days, and I feel stronger now than I’ve felt in years.”

Averbach has a goal of raising $500,000 for cancer research, and plans to finish his walk at Jack Pool Plaza on Aug. 11. Top Stories

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