B.C. veteran whose birthday tradition raised $460K for kids dies at 105

Click to play video: '105-year-old Victoria veteran walks for charity'
105-year-old Victoria veteran walks for charity
WATCH: What has become a birthday tradition raising money for a children's charity - was a little different this year. The 105-year-old veteran who does laps has moved from Oak Bay's Carlton House. But as Kylie Stanton reports, he came back to make it all happen again this year – Mar 22, 2024

A centenarian and Canadian veteran known for his distinctive annual efforts to raise money for charity on Vancouver Island has died.

John Hillman made headlines every year when he would walk laps around Carlton House in Oak Bay over a 10-day period to mark his birthday and to fundraise.

Hillman would walk one lap for each year he’d been alive. In 2023, he circled the property 104 times.

All of the money Hillman collected went to the Save the Children’s Emergency Fund. By the time of his final walk this year, Hillman had raised $460,000.

Staff at Carlton House confirmed that Hillman had passed away peacefully on Monday morning.

Click to play video: '104 year-old begins annual fundraising walk'
104 year-old begins annual fundraising walk

“We are all so grateful to have known John, and to have called him our friend. He had an incredible life, in service of others, and being able to help him with that was truly the honour of a lifetime,” Carlton House digital marketing manager Jacqueline Prewett said in an email.

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“He will be missed by so many people, but we know that his legacy will live on through the lives he touched and the positive change he brought into the world.”

HIllman moved to Veterans Memorial Lodge in Victoria this year, due to the need for more care.

He wasn’t able to complete his annual project, but he did take one lap around the property for tradition’s sake.

Click to play video: '101-year-old B.C. veteran crosses finish line for charity'
101-year-old B.C. veteran crosses finish line for charity

“My health is good but my physical abilities are not as good as they used to be,” Hillman told Global News in March.

“So I did one walk round as a token of the past. And I had, something in the region of, 50 people come and walk with me.”

Hillman was inspired to do the walks by England’s Capt. Tom Moore, who was also a Second World War veteran.

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Moore became a viral sensation during the COVID-19 pandemic for walking laps around his backyard during lockdown to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service. “Captain Tom” set out to raise £1,000, but ultimately pulled in  £33 million (C$40 million).

Prewett said Hillman’s fundraising page remains open and active, and that the veteran’s wish was that people continue to support his campaign for Save the Children beyond the span of his lifetime.

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