At 101 years old, John Hillman is raising money for children who are a century younger than he is.
That’s not something you can say very often.
The Oak Bay resident took his first five laps around the Carlton House parking lot on Monday morning as he embarked on a 20-day journey to 101 laps in total. The number will match his birthday.
Hillman is inspired by Capt. Tom Moore of England, who did 100 laps of his garden to raise money for NHS Charities Together that supports hospitals in the U.K. Moore’s story captured the imagination of people worldwide and he raised tens of millions of dollars in the first week.
Hillman is taking on 101 laps over 20 days to raise awareness and money for Save The Children Canada.
“I was impressed by the Englishman, Capt. Tom., because particularly, we both wear the Burma Star medal,” Hillman said.
The Burma Star is awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth forces for serving in Burma during the Second World War. Hillman was an engineer in the Royal Air Force who dropped bombs from a bomber during the Second World War, granddaughter Jennifer McDiarmid said.
“I thought I would do something, we considered all sorts of charities, one of the things that impressed me most is the pictures of children in different states around the world, and it touched my emotions,” Hillman said. “We decided we would do it for the children in Canada.”
McDiarmid was part of a large group of family members there to support Hillman on Monday.
“He’s always been an active fella,” McDiarmid said. “He was driving up until last year, actually really good at stuff like this and organizing stuff like this.”
Hillman has the full support of the Carlton House owners, staff and the board of directors, said Seona Stephen, who is on the board of directors for Carlton House.
“It’s a heavy target, $101,000, but that’s my goal,” Hillman said. “If it’s necessary, I’ll continue walking until it’s reached or until nobody else will contribute.”
That could mean 202 laps. For training, Hillman did 10 laps a day, “just to make sure the legs worked,” he said.
“We were looking for a charity that we could donate to and we came across pictures of children,” Hillman said. “One of the things that impressed me most are the pictures that you see on television about the state of children in the world and it touched my emotions.
“I’ve had my life, I hope that I can do something for those who are coming up after me.”
To donate, visit the Carlton House Facebook page or visit Canadahelps.org.