By Breanne Massey
Special to the Pioneer
A centenarian in Invermere has embarked on a new adventure to raise money for the Columbia Valley Food Bank (CVFB).
Jim Ashworth, who served in World War II under the Royal Canadian Air Force, is walking four blocks each day from home to the Columbia Valley gardens near the hospital, and back home again until he reaches 101 blocks — a number that matches his current age.
“He was inspired by two other fellas who had won the Burma Star,” explained Lawrie Mack, CVFB chair. “We’re targeting $1,000 for each block, so that we hopefully end up with $101,000 for the food bank. He’s also 101 years old, so that’s the link to our goal.”
Ashworth is one of the oldest surviving holders of the Burma Star military campaign medal which was presented to those who served in operations during the Burma Campaign as air force, army or navy representatives.
When Ashworth began evaluating the apt causes for the initiative, he reached out to Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok for guidance. Clovechok collaborated with his friends Ashworth and Mack to help spin up the fundraiser initiative for the food bank when Ashworth first reached out to him with the idea and has been joining Ashworth on some of the morning walks.
“It’s incredibly impressive what he’s doing, and it’s a struggle to keep up with him,” said Clovechok after participating in the walk on Friday, May 22. “He’s just an amazing person … and I think he’s selected an amazing nonprofit to support.”
Given that two other Burma Star military campaign medal holders are still contributing to their communities in a positive way, Ashworth felt inspired to ante up.
Captain Tom Moore has raised millions of pounds in England for National Health and walked 100 laps as part of a fundraiser. The Queen officially knighted Moore for his walking fundraiser on May 19, which garnered a total of £32M after Prime Minister Boris Johnson nominated Captain Moore for the special nomination.
In addition, war veteran and medal holder John Hillman has been walking five laps a day in a Victoria-based nursing home to raise $101,000 for Save the Children.
“Jim picked the number we’re fundraising for and I think he based it on John Hillman’s age, who walked the laps in the nursing home in Victoria,” explained Mack. “I believe he’s also 101.”
Mack said the fundraising walks are scheduled to end July 5, but wasn’t sure when Ashworth would reach his goal of walking 101 blocks in the Columbia Valley community this summer.
“But he may just keep walking after he does as a sort of Forrest Gump moment,” he said.
To donate to Ashworth’s cause, please visit: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/columbia-valley-food-bank/campaign/Jim-Ashworth-Walk/
To learn more about Ashworth’s life, Mack encourages the community to pick-up a copy of My Favourite Veterans written by local author Elinor Florence which dedicates a chapter to telling his story at https://www.elinorflorence.com/