58-year-old skates for over 19 hours straight
WINNIPEG -- Skating for over 19 hours might seem extreme, but for one Toronto man, it’s become a regular occurrence.
Steve McNeil, a recreational hockey referee, started his 1926 Skate campaign in 2012, skating 19 hours and 26 minutes straight to raise money for Alzheimer’s awareness.
“This is the twentieth time I’ve done this in eight years and I’ve run into a little adversity. Mother Nature has certainly straightened us out here in Winnipeg with the river trial not being open,” said McNeil.
McNeil started his campaign in honour of the year his mother was born, 1926. He said she suffered from Alzheimer’s for almost 20 years before she died in 2012.
For the seventh year of the campaign, McNeil decided to ramp things up, holding marathon skating sessions in all seven Canadian NHL cities.
McNeil said the temperature in Winnipeg was better than many cities he’s skated in, but the closure of the river trail forced him to skate on the 3 km long top trail.
“It was really, really chewed up through the night and I ended up running into some skate issues, one of my blades fell out of my skates,” he said.
McNeil is more upset that he had to pause skating to grab his 50-year-old back up skates than he is about his regular pair breaking.
“I feel a little empty inside because I didn’t do it all at once. I had to go back to my hotel and get my extra skates.”
Other than the pause, McNeil felt good about his skating.
“Usually after I stop I get a little bit of cramping,” he said. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life now because of doing this.”
So far, the 1926 Skate campaign has raised almost $25,000.
“I think we are somewhere around $25,000 right now and my goal is to raise $100,000 by the time I finish,” said McNeil.
McNeil’s next skate is on Jan. 31 in Montreal where his three brothers will also try the marathon skate.
At each stop he partners with local Alzheimer’s societies, asking people to donate $19.26 to the cause.
Donations can be made on his website.