Today I want to introduce you to a young man, Jamie McDonald, who is just a little bit crazy, I think, but in a really nice sort of way.Jamie, born in 1986 in Gloucester, England, battled several serious illnesses as a child, and spent the first nine years of his life in and out of hospitals. Once Jamie’s health began to improve, he discovered the joys of movement, of exercise, of … running. And now, Jamie runs … and boy does he run! But Jamie doesn’t just run for fun … Jamie runs with purpose.
On 09 March 2013, Jamie set off from St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, on the Atlantic coast of Canada, and ran for 5,000 miles to Vancouver on the Pacific coast, where he arrived on 03 February 2014, nearly one year later! But it wasn’t just a run. First, Jamie did the entire run dressed as Captain Flash.I told you he was just a little crazy. But there’s more to this than meets the eye. You see, Jamie wanted to find a way to give back to all those who helped him when he was young and sick …
“I started to wonder: ‘What is it that I want from life?’. I reflected and thought about all this time I had spent in hospital and I went to visit the children’s hospital in Gloucester… I walked out and I thought ‘I’ve got £20,000 of my own money, maybe I’m in a position where I can give back.’ I had this epiphany.”
Jamie decided to run across Canada, the equivalent of almost 200 marathons, despite only having run once previously, seven years before, after which he vowed to never run again.
“Everyone kept coming up to me asking when I was going to train but my visa had already kicked in. At what point do you train enough to run across the second largest country in the world?”
In total, he ran over 5,000 miles for charity and raised a quarter of a million pounds for children’s charities, including Great Ormond Street hospital – where he had been treated as a child – in the process. Along the journey, he also spoke at schools to help raise awareness of his efforts. Although he started with a goal of raising some £40,000 (~$53,000 USD), he ended up with more than £250,000! All proceeds went to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and the charity which supports Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, and also Canadian charities such as SickKids Foundation.
But that was only the beginning of Jamie’s philanthropy. In the time since his last adventure, Jamie has co-founded Gloucestershire-based Superhero Foundation, a charity that grants money to families for treatment not otherwise available on the NHS.
From the website:
Adventureman Jamie McDonald, co-founded Superhero Foundation, aiming to empower real-life Superheroes to change, and save lives.
We support UK and U.S children’s hospitals and other sick kids around the world.
We select and support individuals who want to take on their own physical challenge to inspire people to donate – acting as a unique (registered charity) crowdfunding platform. And have a big dream to build our own Superhero HQ.
Recovery from illness, an accident or managing a chronic condition is a long and winding road. And we know that sometimes there are therapies, equipment and treatments – which can relieve mental or physical illness – that fall outside the remit of what standard healthcare services, like the UK’s NHS, can fund.
We see this type of fundraising challenge as real opportunity for good. An opportunity to unite families, build communities, create lasting friendships and to inspire thousands of other people along the way. That’s why we set up Superhero Foundation.
The foundation is just getting off the ground, so I cannot find much information, but I like what I see so far. Jamie and the members of the foundation help inspire people to be adventurers, to use their own skills to do things to help others … and themselves. Check out their website to learn more about how they work and see some real-life examples of people they have helped, or are helping.Jamie, meanwhile, is … on the road again, this time running across the U.S. On his Canadian adventure, he ran into quite a few troubles, including −40C temperatures, being beaten and robbed celebrating the new year in Banff, Alberta, and pushing his 60 kilograms (130 lb) load in a pushchair when he was no longer able to carry it on his back. Suffering from acute tendinitis in his foot, he continued his run and a bone spur has grown over the inflammation. He slept rough on the side of the road unless taken in by strangers. He wore through 10 pairs of shoes.
Things should be a little easier and a little safer this time, for two Microsoft partners, intY and Acacus, are providing support in the form of a high-tech tracker that will relay information in real time, showing location, speed and distance information, including useful features like weather and danger zones. Users along his route will have the ability to opt in to notifications so they can be alerted when McDonald is close to their location. They can also get automated pings on new social media posts and more. McDonald claims not to be too tech-savvy and says …
“From a safety point of view it’s awesome. It keeps my girlfriend and mum happy. Their technology that they’re helping with, it’s incredible. I’m not much of a geek, but, in a nutshell, people can see exactly where I am, live, which is a game changer because for me, I need to connect with the kids and the families at the hospitals and just the everyday people in America. The more connections I make the bigger the difference I can make.”
You, too can track Jamie’s progress or even get notifications: Check out the live tracker here, and register here to get special notifications.Jamie started out on 11 April from Cape Alva on Washington’s Pacific Coast and his total journey will be over 6,000 miles.
Oh yes, and he has also written the best-selling book ‘Adventureman: Anyone Can Be a Superhero’, the story of his life to this point – no mean feat for somebody that struggles with dyslexia, who retook his GCSEs aged 23. All proceeds from the book go to charity.
Jamie McDonald may not have a lot of money to spend helping others, but he has a heart the size of Texas and is putting every ounce of himself into raising money to help sick children. And on top of that, this dude is fun! My hat goes off to him.
** A few links to more information about Jamie McDonald