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Calgary veterans advocate whose son was killed in Afghanistan passes away

Michael Hornburg, who's son Nate was the 71st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan, speaks about his son at his home in Calgary, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The father of fallen Calgary solider Corporal Nathan Hornburg has passed away after living with an brain tumour for the past few years.

Michael Hornburg became a vocal advocate for war veterans after his son Nathan was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

READ MORE: Special military dedication and ceremony held to honour fallen Calgary soldier

Hornburg started an annual event in Calgary known as Loops for the Troops a year after his son’s death.

Michael Hornburg, who’s son Nate was the 71st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan, speaks about his son at his home in Calgary, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The memorial run raised about $600,000 during the time it was the held in Calgary and Edmonton.

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Loops for the Troops still takes in place in Edmonton and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in June. The annual event included a five-kilometre and 10-kilometre walk or run and honoured the service of Canada’s military and first responders.

Much of the money raised went to support military families including the Military Family Resource Centre in Calgary.

READ MORE: Two annual military fundraisers cancelled due to economy

Hornburg was also involved in veterans events around Calgary and often spoke at local schools to talk about the Canada’s military.

According to his obituary, “His passion for the things he loved extended to his children and grandchildren. He was happiest at the family ranch near Nanton ‘grandparenting.'”

“In 2007, Michael suffered an unimaginable loss when his son, Nathan, was killed in Afghanistan. Formerly a private person, Michael became a spokesperson for the civilian experience. He wrote and spoke eloquently and candidly at every opportunity. He became a peer support counsellor for families of the fallen through the HOPE organization.

Michael Hornburg, who’s son Nate was the 71st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan, speaks about his son at his home in Calgary on March 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In the fall of 2016, Hornburg fell ill while on a hiking trip to Spain to memorialize his son. After having seizure he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and was unable to walk or talk.

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The family was on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses to to bring Hornburg home, and members of the military in Calgary rallied and donated $25,000 to offset the costs.

Hornburg passed away on March 24.

A celebration of life will be held on April 6 at  St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Calgary.

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