Volume 92, Issue 64

Thursday, January 21, 1999


The end of an incredible journey

Stating the success of the city's year

Lawsuit brings financial burden

Sexuality could find its way into course calendar

Bilingualism slipping

Food scarcity a problem with homeless


The end of an incredible journey

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

John Davidson's long trek across the country ended yesterday in Victoria, British Columbia, 286 days after it began.

Davidson began his march last year in an effort to raise money to fund genetic research to help sufferers of illnesses such as breast cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the disease afflicting his son, Jesse.

"He is a hero in everyone's heart," said Philip Spencer, a volunteer coordinator for Jesse's Journey, the name given to Davidson's quest.

Spencer said Davidson began walking last April 10 on his son's 18th birthday and finished yesterday on his own 53rd birthday, making him the oldest man to do this. "We think he'll be getting into the Guinness Book [of World Records]."

Spencer said Davidson had raised just under $2 million of the $10 million he has set as his goal, although he was waiting to hear from the team about additional last minute donations. Upon his return to London, Davidson will work towards raising the remainder of the money through corporate donations.

The Jesse's Journey team received two anonymous donations after Davidson reached the end of his journey, Golovchenko added. One was for $115,000 and the other $50,000, pushing the grand total to well over $2 million.

Maureen Golovchenko, journey director for Jesse's Journey, was with Davidson in Victoria as he reached the ocean and said he was doing great. "He's fabulous. He's ready to kick back and relax after 286 days on the road. He'll have the opportunity to think about what he's done – it's an amazing feat."

She said after Davidson finished his walk they moved to the steps of the legislature building where there was a celebration to congratulate him. The team will return to London tomorrow evening and will travel to Westmount Shopping Centre via a police escort for a brief reception with the public and London Mayor Dianne Haskett.

Golovchenko added she is proud of everything they have accomplished. "I think it is a fabulous, fabulous tribute to John's passion and compassion. I can't believe it's over – it's been a big, big success."

In a speech yesterday at the Royal Host hotel, Haskett expressed her pride for Davidson. "He has put the City of London on the map and become a national hero.

"We are so proud of John, his courage, his vision and his amazing determination to complete the Herculean task he began over nine months ago," she added.

Robert McMurtry, dean of the faculty of medicine and dentistry at Western, said what Davidson has done for his son and research is wonderful. "It is a story with every element you would want or not want, because there is a human tragedy underpinning it, but he has chosen to do something positive about it.

"He's trying and is, making a difference. What he has done as an individual is extraordinary."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999