What started as an item on his personal bucket list has turned into a wholesome journey of charity, as 80-year-old B.C.-native Gary Averbach makes his way from Calgary to Vancouver through just the power of his own two feet to raise money for cancer research.
Averbach’s solo trek, which he’s named Bob’s Walk For Cancer Research, is raising awareness and funds in support of cancer research and care in memory of his cousin, business partner and friend Robert Golden who passed away from the disease in 2021.
Bob’s Walk For Cancer Research has already raised nearly $300,000, well on its way to the goal of $500,000.
Five years ago, Averbach started to think about making a big trip.
“I wanted to show that 80 wasn’t the end of my physical life,” said Averbach. He wanted to prove to himself and others what he was capable of, and what most people think is impossible for an 80-year-old to do.
Golden was diagnosed with rare and fatal bone cancer in January of 2021. Averbach went to visit his friend during his time in palliative care. That’s when the purpose of his journey changed.
“He said ‘I want you to raise money in my name for cancer. There has to be a cure.’,” said Averbach.
On June 25, Averbach began his journey-on-foot from Canada Olympic Park in Calgary to Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver, hoping to arrive by August 10.
On July 8, Averbach passed through Revelstoke, more than two weeks into his journey. Although the stretch of highway between the Alberta-B.C. border is fairly uninhabited, he said he’s felt supported by passers-by who honk, wave, and cheer him on.
“The support has been great,” said Averbach.
Averbach walks nearly 27 km in about 5 hours of walking per day, stopping in communities along the way.
He said the walking has been ‘amazingly easy’ and that the trip has made his body considerably stronger. “The walking part is the easy part,” laughed Averbach.