A 40-year-old Alberta firefighter is on the final stretch of a 1,500-kilometre walk to honour his family and to raise money for cancer research.
On Oct. 21, Dwayne Buckle set out from his home in Red Deer and started pounding the pavement on highways en route to B.C. He has hiked through the Interior and the Lower Mainland, and crossed over to Vancouver Island. After covering a roughly 70-kilometre stretch Monday starting in Parksville, he enjoyed a well-earned rest Tuesday at the Travelodge in Courtenay. His final destination is Port Hardy.
Buckle’s inspiration is his family. He lost a cousin and his grandfather to cancer. His aunt, who suffered brain cancer, also passed away.
“That’s why this is so important for me to finish,” Buckle said. “This is about my family. You only have one. You make mistakes in life, and you hurt people deeply. You can never take it for granted…My family was so selfless.”
Regardless of weather, each leg of his hike has been memorable. Lake Louise was cold and windy, but he still loved it. The Fraser Canyon was tough, but also boasted amazing scenery.
“It’s a different outlook. A lot of people pass that at 110 or 90. I get to do it at 5 km/h, so I get to take it all in.”
The Hike for the Cure is mostly a solo effort, but Buckle has friends available online if needed. He started the journey on his own dime, but people started opening their doors upon hearing his story.
Brian Winter of Kelowna befriended Buckle while driving in Beaverdell, B.C. He provided a support vehicle as Buckle walked through Rogers Pass, helped get him through the Fraser Canyon, and provided a place to stay at Christmas.
“It’s an incredible cause, it’s an incredible feat,” Winter said. “I lost both my parents to cancer, so this is sort of my payback.”
This trek is the second time Buckle has undertaken a long-distance journey on two feet. Shortly before this one, he completed a “mental health walk” for his sister, who passed away suddenly a couple of years ago.
“It broke me. I started to do a walk in the summertime.”
He bought a tent, left from Cranbrook and made his way to Victoria. He returned home for about 30 days, and decided to hit the road again, this time for his aunt, grandfather and cousin.
“Those are my heroes. They brought me up. This is the way I get to say sorry.”
A friend suggested to make the walk public, considering it’s not just Buckle’s family that is affected by cancer.
“I never thought this would ever turn out the way it did. This blew right up, and I’m glad it did, because the money it raises for the Cancer Society is a blessing.”
Follow Buckle on his journey via Facebook. Type in Hike for the Cure or Dwayne Devon Buckle.