Tears came to 104-year-old John Hillman’s eyes as he finished his final lap around the Carlton House courtyard for his annual Save the Children fundraiser.
The B.C. veteran proudly grinned, waving his hands in the air while thanking members of the Greater Victoria community and loved ones for the overwhelming support.
On May 1 Hillman embarked on his journey to do about 10 laps a day to raise money and awareness for the not-for-profit organization. This year alone Hillman managed to raise $62,983, plus $5,000 from the Carlton House, and more is still coming from Oak Bay residents.
Familiar faces were alongside Hillman while he lapped the courtyard, including Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch, several members of the Oak Bay Police Department, Carlton House president Judi Prewett, and Save the Children president Danny Glenwright.
Glenwright knew about Hillman before he started at Save the Children and once he joined, he knew he had to meet the centurian. Glenwright believed Hillman is recognized nationally because, he said, “I don’t think there are many 104-year-olds doing what John did today and what John has done over the past 10 days. He’s an inspiration. This was his idea. He wanted to do something when he turned 100 to raise funds for children suffering.”
Since 2020, Hillman has been lapping the courtyard annually for every year he’s been alive, which was 101 laps that first time. His inspiration was Capt. Tom Moore of England, who raised money for charities by circling around his garden 100 times. Each year Hillman sets a fundraising goal that corresponds to his age and this year’s was $104,000.
Murdoch expressed his gratitude. “I’m very appreciative of all John’s done to raise the funds and honestly just for how much this builds our community, it’s really cool to see this many people out.”
Impressed at Hillman’s ability to pursue this fundraiser annually, he added “we’re just constantly amazed that he keeps doing this and he keeps upping the game. It’s remarkable to me that one man can just give hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the world to benefit. It’s just fantastic. We hope he’s back for 105.”
Singer Stephanie Greaves serenaded Hillman and others walking on the cobblestone with classic war-time songs – many of which are Hillman’s favourites as it’s become a tradition.
To celebrate the accomplishment, Hillman cheered the crowd with a glass of scotch. After the laps and drink, he reminded everyone, “don’t forget the children, they need us badly.”
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