When I grow old and wise, and if I ever get to be 101 years old, that is, I want to be like John Hillman. You may have seen the news about this gentleman, but if you haven’t, well, this story will warm your heart in a special way.
Mr. John Hillman is a veteran, British-born and Canadian by marriage, decorated with four World War II Campaign medals, including the Burma Star, and presently a resident of the retirement home Carlton House in Oak Bay on Vancouver Island. You can read about his life and outstanding service here. Mere sentences in that abridged biographical note can easily become entire chapters in a book.
Having just celebrated his 101st birthday, he set his mind to raise $101,000 for the children charity Save the Children Canada by pledging to do 101 laps at the retirement home with his walker. Mr. Hillman does five laps a day and he has so far raised $123,359! The fundraiser will keep on going until the end of June.
Here are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I read this story and saw his smile: that Mr. Hillman has been through so much during his service and would have so much to tell us about resilience; that he has celebrated his 101st birthday without family due to the Covid-19 physical distancing restrictions and he is also separated by the same from his wife of 78 years, who is in a nearby long term care facility, but he is not bogged down. On the contrary, here he is, smiling and adding joy to our Covid-19 impacted daily life and making a significant contribution to the well-being of Canadian children affected by the pandemic. One step at a time.
He was inspired by another Burma Star-decorated soldier, British veteran Capt. Tom Moore who started doing 100 laps around his garden in April, in order to raise money for the National Health Service in the U.K., aiming to finish the fundraiser by the time he turned 100 at the end of April.
Mr. Moore’s goal was modest to start with – a 1,000 pounds, but the number of people donating has taken that initial sum to a whopping $33,000,000! Did your eyes grow big as you read that? Mine did. We’re talking about this massive charity wave started by a veteran who just turned 100! It’s OK to take a moment to contemplate what these men are doing and while there, please consider donating to our close to home fundraiser initiated by Mr. Hillman.
There is news fatigue going on, more now that we’re waiting with bated breath on the next virus-related information. There is a continuous flow of pandemic news, pandemic news controversies, graphs and numbers, funny memes and awful ones – too many drinking ones anyway – and no one can blame you if you want to throw in the towel, even if for a couple of days and stay away from any screens.
Stories like the ones above make it alright again though, they just do, because they put things in perspective. No matter what goes on, find a purpose, and a heartful one at that. Mr. Hillman’s daily walks, via his retirement home Facebook page, are proof to that. The rest will come.
That’s where hope springs from and we have seen that already in our own community via the Caremongering movement, which I wrote about in an earlier column, so we’re lucky that way. This is what makes the world go round. Oh, and this, what Captain Moore said in the interview for Washington Post: “Remember, in the wartime, things were bad but eventually they seemed to get better. We fought on and we won.”