For the past 10 days, whether rain or shine, through the heat waves, Chris Sadleir has been walking from Calgary toward Edmonton.
The 45-year-old is planning on completing a 330-kilometre trek in 11 days as part of his initiative called Walk To Breathe. He started the initiative to honour his father by raising awareness and money for The Lung Association. Sadleir’s father had lung cancer and went through a double lung transplant in 2016.
Sadleir has been walking 30 kilometres a day and is joined by his parents who follow behind him driving in an RV.
“This has been a lot of fun, the people we have met, the stories we have heard from them, so uplifting and encouraging, getting the honks and waves, that shows us that people are aware of what we are doing,” he said.
He said people would pull on the side of the highway and run toward him, money in hand to donate to his cause.
“People are very appreciative that we are trying to bring more awareness to it,” he said.
According to The Lung Association, one-in-five Canadians suffer from a lung disease. Lung cancer claims more lives than breast, ovarian and prostate cancers combined.
He said following his father’s surgery, when he started to learn more about the association he was stunned by how many diseases are lung related.
“Stuff as common as asthma and bronchitis. Sleep apnea is huge. These are all respiratory diseases and they fall under The Lung Association as well as lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, COPD, all that stuff and COVID-19,” he said.
He said COVID-19 had been a big one for The Lung Association. “They have been hit really hard with it for the last few months and you know unfortunately they are overwhelmed because they have received a third of the government funding that they need to operate properly here in Alberta,” he said.
He said he decided to do the walk to really challenge himself and raise awareness but most importantly raise donations for the association.
“I’m really reaching out with my humble hat in hand asking for donations for this Walk To Breathe,” he said.
Originally, Sadleir had planned on raising $22,000 to symbolize the fact that, “the average person takes 22,000 breathes per day.”
But he was able to reach that goal halfway through his journey, so he decided to up the ante and add another $11,000 to his goal — “representative of the 11-day journey” — bringing the total to $33,000.
He has raised close to $24,000 as of Sunday evening.
The whole experience has meant a lot to his father, Rob Sadleir, not only because of the response from Albertans but also to spend time with his son.
“He lives in Edmonton, we live in Calgary so we see each other as often as we can but not 11 days in a row,” he said.
Sadleir is expected to reach Edmonton and complete his journey on Monday.
He said the initiative has been quite the experience but also a challenge.
“When I was younger, I might have had more athletic prowess than I do nowadays. I’m just an average guy. I suffer from arthritis, I get flare-ups of gout,” he said.
“I knew it could hurt me pretty good along the way but I do like to walk avidly so I thought well let’s combine my walking into doing something good and create some positive community vibes along the way.”
Whether he will make this an annual thing and do it again next year, he said he hasn’t ruled it out.