A journey of 1,100 kms starts with a single step

Bart Zych is walking from Hope to Calgary raising money for the Children’s Aid Foundation

Bart Zych prepares to leave Cranbrook

Bart Zych prepares to leave Cranbrook

He’s just one man walking along the side of the road, completely alone, with no supporting RV or team. He’s self-contained, tenting by the side of the road at night, buying groceries in the communities he comes to along the way. It’s the

iforCommunity project.

Bart Zych of Vancouver, is on an 1,100-km walk from Hope, B.C., to Calgary in an effort to raise $50,000 for the Children’s Aid Foundation, a charity that supports organizations across the country that help neglected, disadvantaged, and homeless kids in Canada.

“I left Hope on June 17 and have been walking and fundraising completely alone, and sleeping outdoors,” Zych said, stopping into the Townsman office on Monday. “I walk about 30 kilometres per day.”

Zych said he’s had many ups and downs, emotionally and physically, “as I had one of my knees reconstructed last year, and one of them is not fully healed yet.”

Zych, who is originally from Poland, doesn’t have any children of his own, but he believes they are the future of society, and need to be protected. Recent events in the news — the Amanda Todd tragedy, for instance, and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, were motivating factors that prompted him to undertake the fundraising venture.

“So I started looking for an organization that’s Canadian, which specifically benefits kids,” he said.

Children’s Aid fit the bill — then Zych had to ask the question of how he could support the foundation.

“I got to wondering what I could do. What can I do? Well, I can walk.” Zych said that while that may sound trite, in fact it is remarkable that he can actually do this trek — after having had surgery on both knees, only recently on his right knee.

“I can’t bike, or run,” he said. “The surgeons didn’t even know if I would be able to bend my knee after the most recent surgery. But I ended up being able to.”

That recovery, against odds, Zych said, was another motivating factor.

And thus, the

iforCommunity project was born.

Temperatures are expected to soar in coming days, but Zych says he’s going to appreciate it. After all, he spent the first nine days of his trek in pouring rain.

He added that he is walking with the full blessing and support of the Children’s Aid Foundation.

“Cranbrook is a milestone,” he said. “I reached my 700th kilometre by (Elizabeth Lake). I also had my first flat tire.”

He’s getting good exposure, he said, and good reception wherever I goes. He added that he wanted to thank Mt. Baker RV Park in downtown Cranbrook, who gave him a complementary night there so he could rest his knees and do some grocery shopping.

For more information on Zych and his trek, or to make a donation, visit www.

iforCommunity.org. Zych said that his campaign is having an effect, and people are donating to Children’s Aid through his site.

“I don’t get any direct benefit from the donations,” he said. “But when I see people donating it gives me an emotional charge, a surge of adrenalin.”