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Grand Falls-Windsor man walks home from Badger in aid of local hospice

The trio of, from the left, Benjamin Blake, George Hart and Bill Mayne finish the last couple of kilometres of the walk to Grand Falls-Windsor from Badger on Monday. Hart and Mayne started the walk earlier around 6 a.m. in Badger and were joined by Blake just outside their destination community.
The trio of, from the left, Benjamin Blake, George Hart and Bill Mayne finish the last couple of kilometres of the walk to Grand Falls-Windsor from Badger on Monday. Hart and Mayne started the walk earlier around 6 a.m. in Badger and were joined by Blake just outside their destination community. - Nicholas Mercer

George Hart rubbed his thighs and couldn’t help but smile. 

“It was a good thing I skated all winter,” the Grand Falls-Windsor man said on Monday. 

It was a good thing alright as Hart made the seven-hour walk from Badger to Grand Falls-Windsor in an effort to raise money and awareness about the proposed Lionel Kelland Hospice in the community. 

Hart was inspired to raise money for the hospice after seeing the issue come up on the local news over the winter. 

He recalls hearing a member of the hospice’s board express their concerns with funding and then saw politicians kick the proverbial ball around.  

Hart decided he was going to take a part of the funding question out of the politician’s hands and do something about it. 

That is when he started raising money and decided on a walk to raise awareness about the hospice. 

“There is a need for this around here as the population is aging,” said Hart. “People dying in wards in the hospital shouldn’t be acceptable in your last three or four hours on this earth. 

“Just the fact that people will get to die in comfort.” 

Funding did come as the Liberals made a multi-million dollar commitment to the facility just days before the provincial election in May. 

Hart figures he has raised some $6,000 for the hospice. 

“It is just amazing,” said hospice board member Pauline Power. “It came out of a clear blue sky when (Hart) contacted us and said he want to do this. 

While it was a bit shaky at first, Hart couldn’t have asked for a better day to make his biped trip across a small stretch of central Newfoundland. 

The walk started around 6 a.m. in Badger in drizzle. It wasn’t long, however, before Hart and his walking buddy Bill Mayne left that behind and had a relatively easy walk to Grand Falls-Windsor. 

It was a cool day in the mid-teens with a slight breeze and, perhaps most importantly, overcast. The sun didn’t come out from behind cloud cover and beat down on the walkers. 

A couple of kilometres out from their destination, Mayne and Hart were joined by Hart’s grandson Benjamin Blake. Together, the trio entered Grand Falls-Windsor, crested the last hill and finished the journey at the lower parking lot of the hospice building. 

They were greeted by hugs from family members and tears from supporters. Blake took a swig from a sports drink bottle while Hart removed his yellow safety vest. 

“I’d do it, supposing I had to do it on crutches,” he said. “Once I set my mind to doing it, I was going to do it.” 

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