By Steve Hubrecht

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Canada’s national para hockey men’s team captain, Tyler McGregor, sledge skated the B.C. leg of his Sledge Skate of Hope on the Lake Windermere Whiteway earlier this week, drawing a large crowd of local well-wishers and supporters.

More than a hundred valley residents turned out at Kinsmen Beach early on the morning of Monday, Jan. 23, as McGregor took to the ice at Kinsmen Beach.

McGregor, as previously reported in the Pioneer, is in the midst of a winter-long, cross-country fundraising campaign. He is sledge skating a full marathon (42 kilometres) in each of Canada’s provinces, often on iconic ice skating trails (Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, the Forks in Winnipeg, and of course the Whiteway), in an effort to raise more than $100,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation. Like Fox, McGregor became an amputee at a young age following a diagnosis of bone cancer (McGregor had spindle cell sarcoma, while Fox had osteosarcoma). 

The marathon on the Whiteway was McGregor’s third, following one earlier this month in Nova Scotia, and one in Alberta just a few days before he arrived in B.C. Temperatures were well below zero and conditions cloudy when he arrived at Kinsmen Beach early on Monday morning. As the clock ticked down to McGregor’s starting time, more and more residents also came down to the beach – some to cheer McGregor on his way and others to skate with him for as long as they could last. About two dozen of the gathered crowd set off with McGregor for the first few hundred metres of his three laps around the lake. 

Just before taking to the ice, he spoke with the Pioneer, and described how grateful he was to see so many people out.

“It’s amazing. It’s been very uplifting — it seems each marathon has grown bigger in terms of participation,” said McGregor. 

He had arrived in Invermere the night before and said “it is an incredibly beautiful place, and the small town hospitality has been wonderful.”

The U18 Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team was out in force at the skate, with most of the team joining McGregor on his skate. The team undertook a tremendous fundraising effort for McGregor, and by the end of the day on Jan. 23 had raised more than $10,000 to donate to the Sledge Skate of Hope.

“I’m really please with the turnout, and I’m not surprised to see so many locals out early on a Monday morning. When our valley sees a good cause, they come together,” Invermere mayor, Al Miller, told the Pioneer at the event.

“It is truly inspiring, and I think it is a true tribute to the legacy of Terry Fox,” added Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA, Doug Clovechok, who recalled seeing Fox in Calgary more than four decades ago.