It was on this day in 1998 that John Davidson set out on his solo 286-day walk across the country in honour of his son Jesse.
Three years after pushing his son across Ontario in a wheelchair, Davidson was embarking on a new journey. This time, Davidson walked 83,000 kilometres across the country.
“Jesse’s Journey: A Father’s Tribute” raised more than $2 million and launched the Jesse Davidson Endowment, a fund that currently sits at over $10 million.
Davidson says thanks to the money they’ve raised, they are able to fund projects across the world.
“Oftentimes, when these are over, there’s a tendency for the impact to taper off an face, with Jesse’s Journey it’s been just the reverse,” said Davidson.
“We finished going across Canada, and we’ve gone on to build that ability to fund research higher and higher every year, and now the research community has found us, and we get applications from all over now.”
Jesse was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at the age of nine, and passed away from complications related to the disease in November 2009 at the age of 29.
He says one thing he found out on his cross-country walk is that all Canadians are the same.
“I found that people are the same no matter where I went, particularly dads,” said Davidson.
“I met a lot of dads and they want three things, they want to see their children healthy, they want to see them educated, and they want to be able to just work and retire in the best country in the world and just enjoy life, that’s really what Canadians want.”
To this day, Jesse’s Journey has funded more than $9 million in research projects around the world and is the only Canadian charity that exists solely to fund Duchenne muscular dystrophy research.