Jerry Hughes is getting familiar with the Cowichan Sportsplex track.
“I’m out here, I’ve been out here about 18 to20 hours a day,” he said.
Most of the hours are spent running lap after lap, with the occasional hour or two set aside for eating or sleeping in his on-site trailer. This past Sunday, the 40-y-year-old began a six-day running event called One Track Mind -benefiting the Help Fill a Dream Foundation.
“The main goal was to raise money for Help Fill a Dream because they are lacking donations. The other goal was to try and go for the Canadian record which is from 1891,” Hughes aid.
The record was set by David Bennett who ran 870 kilometres over six days. Hughes has competed in Ultra Marathons before, but nothing quite like this.
“I believe I’m at f441,” said Hughes, aware that his odds of catching Bennett are near insurmountable.
He’s battled torrential downpour, cold and darkness. But what makes the feat even more remarkable is that Hughes lives with a serious health condition called Gardner Syndrome.
“So basically I don’t have a large intestine and my small intestine has millions of polyps, so every year they have to check them out to make sure they aren’t cancerous because eventually, they will be.”
As a child, Hughes was the beneficiary of the Help Fill a Dream campaign as donors funded a family trip to Disneyland. Now, he’s paying it forward. Despite not reaching his target of breaking the near 130-year-old Canadian record, his efforts on the track will have a tremendous impact on the lives of many.
“The real goal is the journey and to show what’s possible,” said Hughes.
And he’s already garnered some fans in the Vancouver Island pro soccer franchise Pacific FC.
“It’s unbelievable what he’s doing,” said Matthew Baldisimo, one of over a dozen Pacific FC players to run alongside Hughes Thursday morning. “Running this much with the condition he has, he’s inspired me and I hope he inspires many more people.”
So far, the father of two has raised nearly thirty thousand dollars, inspiring and changing lives step by step.
“I’ll never give up and I just want to show every kid out there, and every adult even, that they can accomplish anything that they really put their mind to.”
Jerry Hughes aims to wrap up his run 9 a.m. Saturday at the Cowichan Sportsplex track in Duncan. To donate to Jerry’s run for the Help Fill a Dream Foundation, click here.