By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1
The man behind Jesse’s Journey, a 3,300-kilometre walk across Ontario 17 years ago to raise money to fight Duchenne muscular dystrophy, had one piece of advice for a London grandfather about to embark on a similar venture.
“John (Davidson) always says, ‘Just take it one telephone pole at a time’,” said Bob Facca, 62, who will set out on a 500-kilometre walking trek from Owen Sound to London on Monday, May 7, to raise money for research in the name of his four-year-old grandson, Louie.
“I was telling my wife, there’s a lot of telephone poles,” Facca said after scouting out his route during a drive on Saturday (April 28).
Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes a person’s muscles to weaken and stop working much more rapidly than more common forms of the disorder and Louie was diagnosed with the disease when he was two-and-a-half years old.
“He does swimming exercises and walks with one of those walkers and tries to go up stairs,” Facca said. “He’s doing OK. I don’t think he knows what’s going on yet.”
Continuous fundraising is needed for researching the disease, Facca said, and he wanted to model his fundraising effort after Jesse’s Journey, when John pushed his son Jesse’s wheelchair across Ontario in 1995 and raised $1 million.
A subsequent walk across Canada in 1998 raised a further $2 million.
Jesse, who was born in London and diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age six, lost his battle with the disease in 2009 at the age of 29.
“I figured I should do the walk myself and maybe raise some money and awareness,” Facca said, adding Louie, who lives in Michigan, will be at the starting line on Owen Sound to see his grandfather off.
He has trained for the walk since Christmas and plans to cover roughly 20 kilometres a day with family and friends coming along for support along the way.
Local businesses have donated support vehicles for the trek, Facca said.
Facca’s journey, which has been dubbed “Louie’s Grandpa Walks to Defeat Duchenne,” will take him through several communities along the way and will wrap up in London on May 30 with a finale dinner at 6 p.m. at the Marconi Club on Clarke Road.
So far, Facca has collected $54,000 in donations and he said $40,000 more has been pledged.
All of the money raised will go to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research and Facca said he is paying for his accommodations and expenses along his route out of his own pocket.
To make a pledge, go to www.jessesjourney.com and look for Louie’s story on the lower right-hand side of the page.
Tickets for the finale dinner are $50 and are available by contacting the Jesse’s Journey office at 519-645-8855 or Facca Fasteners 519-681-5931.
May is “Defeat Duchenne” month and Facca’s walk begins one day after another fundraising event in the city.
The 33-kilometre Walk Across Canada in a Day event takes place at Springbank Park on Sunday (May 6).
To register for the walk or to make a pledge, visit www.jessesjourney.com.