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'I could do some more': 101-year-old completes 101 laps for charity
Published Saturday, May 16, 2020 4:12PM PDT Last Updated Saturday, May 16, 2020 7:28PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- John Hillman reached his fundraising goal last weekend, but his task wasn't quite complete.
The 101-year-old Second World War veteran set out to raise $101,000 for Save the Children Canada by walking 101 laps around the courtyard of his Oak Bay retirement home.
Within days, his fundraising page had surpassed the initial goal, but his laps still lagged behind.
Hillman resolved to double his daily laps - from five to 10 - in hopes of reaching the goal faster and honouring the support he had received. On Saturday, he completed his final six laps, telling reporters he was "elated" to have finished.
"Indescribable, I feel," he said. "I feel like jumping over the moon."
As of Saturday, his supporters had donated nearly $150,000 in his name. With two weeks left before the end of the fundraiser, it seems likely they'll surpass that total.
Hillman's effort was inspired by the story of Capt. Tom Moore, a 100-year-old veteran in England who set out to do 100 laps around his garden for charity and ended up raising millions.
Both Hillman and Moore wear the Burma Star, a medal awarded who served in Britain's Burma campaign during the Second World War.
Hillman was born in South Wales in 1919 and joined Britain's Royal Air Force in 1937 at the age of 17. On Friday, pilots from "Yak Flight," based at Victoria International Airport, took to the skies for a flyover of Carlton House - where Hillman lives - in the veteran's honour.
Crowds of workers from Carlton House, as well as members of the general public, have been gathering daily to watch Hillman do his laps in the courtyard.
He said he appreciated their encouragement throughout the process.
"I have enjoyed doing it, and I have enjoyed the company that I've gotten every day," Hillman said.
The 101-year-old said he was feeling "relaxed and gratified" after completing his task Saturday. Asked what he'd do next, Hillman said he planned to "make a day of it," with a celebratory beer.
Hillman didn't say whether he had future fundraising plans, but he did say he was confident in his ability to do the laps he promised.
"I knew I could do it, and I've done it," he said. "I could do some more."